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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Thursday, Dec 13, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Democratic Illinois State Representative is a tie. Rep. Kelly Cassidy

She has been able to find a way to take on leadership within her caucus and still get things done in a real way, even when members of her caucus weren’t willing to stand with her. She’s smart, passionate, and a bulldog when she wants to get something done. She represents her district well, with an amazing ability to blend leftwing policy priorities with pragmatism, and bringing people on board from all over the political spectrum. She’s everything that we should want in every one of our legislators.

And here’s Wordslinger’s nomination of House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie

On her way out the door, Rep. Currie gets the nod on the Dem side. If I’m to highlight one facet of her career, it would be her tireless persistence in finally ending Illinois’ hopelessly corrupt and unjust death penalty system.

Honorable mention goes to Rep. Christian Mitchell, who is leaving soon to be JB Pritzker’s deputy governor.

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Republican Illinois State Representative goes to Rep. Dave McSweeney

(H)e has been able to effectively pass legislation across the aisle when most of the Caucus has been ineffective. He dealt with sexual harassment payoffs and township government, even when his party objected to it. he continuously called out the Governor for his mistakes even if it meant he could have had retribution against him. While he won’t make friends in talks about taxes he continuously gets Democrats to sign on and help pass his bills.

Runner up is CD Davidsmeyer

C.D. is another example of, when you got it, you do not need to carry any airs. He is quiet, observant, effective, and salt of the earth.

Congrats to everyone. You earned it.

* OK, let’s move along to today’s categories…

* Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

* Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

Please explain your nominations or your votes won’t count. Also, do your best to nominate in both categories. But, as always, I will understand if you only deal with one party or the other and don’t have enough info to nominate both.


  1. - Honeybear - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 1:20 pm:

    I would like to nominate Sen. Biss
    I fought hard against him during the primary.
    I took every opportunity to slam him.
    But lately he’s been popping up a lot in pictures of my friends on facebook.
    Helping out with this. Advocating for that.
    Standing up for x, Picketing with Y.
    I have to say I really admire his commitment to making Illinois better.
    He’s a good man and I think he deserves to get the Golden horseshoe.

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 1:31 pm:

    I would second Biss for the Democrats. While his past work on pensions is certainly a disappointment and his pathetic campaign for governor was full of holes from the beginning, his transformation from intellectual to activist has been heartening to see. I look forward to seeing what he will do in the coming years. In a far less serious nomination for the Republicans, State Sen. Nathwani is probably the only state senator who hasn’t messed up yet! It is a pity we won’t be able to see his career develop.

  3. - Truthteller - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 1:45 pm:

    Andy Manar, the only downstate democratic state senator that has a position of importance in Springfield and is highly respected .

  4. - Metro East Transplant - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    Best Democrat, Andy Manar. His long hard battle over Education Funding is now materialized into classrooms across the state. He is hardworking, humble and listens to his constituency and produces results. He cares, truly cares, not in some photo op grandstanding kind of way. He visited Taylorville and didn’t showboat. He went, he saw, he helped all without the pomp & circumstance.

  5. - Linus - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 1:53 pm:

    On the D side, Andy Manar: Knowledgeable, personable, eminently capable. Close runners-up: Dan Biss, for many of the same reasons, and his loss will be felt. Kim Lightford is absolutely dogged in her work, a great example of commitment and dedication.

    For the Rs, probably Neal Anderson. He’s no showboater, not doctrinaire, listens carefully to his community, and worked hard to earn re-election.

  6. - Jen - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 1:58 pm:

    For best Democrat, John Mulroe. He flies under the radar, but he is thoughtful and trustworthy and has the ability to bring people together on a number of big issues.

    For best Republican, Pam Althoff, for all of those same attributes. One of the hardest working people in the building, and deservedly well liked.

  7. - Cat Lady - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    Best D: Andy Manar, hands down. Manar has fought tirelessly for the past 5 years for school reform funding and never once gave up. He truly cares about his district and all his constituents in it. He also knows how to run a top-notch campaign. Manar is one of the very best when it comes to anything he does.

  8. - Gohawks123 - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    For best Dem: Andy Manar,there is no one better in the senate than him. Does everything he can for this state, time after time.

  9. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 2:13 pm:

    Best Dem- Senate President Cullerton- he kept his caucus together and focused.

    Best GOP- Jim Durkin. I do not care much for him but he had an absolutely thankless job and he handed it professionally.

  10. - Gettysburgaddress - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 2:58 pm:

    Senator Tom Cullerton is the best Democratic State Senator. Tom was a leader on the Quincy Veterans Home issue and called out Rauner early. He also developed solutions for the problem. Tom works well across the aisle and is well-liked by everyone. Simply remember that Tom Cullerton keeps getting re-elected in Pate’s old area.

    Sam McCann is the best GOP Senator. He looks out for his constituents and stood up to Rauner early.

  11. - Leatherneck - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:00 pm:

    D- Melinda Bush, her work on changing the sexual harassment culture in Springfield and work on gender equality doesn’t get enough credit. She is not afraid to vote for what’s right even after everyone else tells her some issues are too liberal for her district. She was also fearless and successful this past campaign cycle getting women elected to office up and down the ballot in Lake County. She is also one of the funniest people under the dome.

    R- Althoff, she was always able to pull people together on both sides and actually get things passed. I will not miss trying to track the endless amount of bills she introduced each year.

  12. - Truth Squad - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:08 pm:

    For the Republicans, the only answer here is Sen. Jason Barickman. He is relatively young (at least for a Republican,) smart, thoughtful, and absolutely willing to buck his party for the right policy. He’s handling the legalized marijuana with a pragmatic and open-minded approach to help get a seat at the table and stop any outrageous parts of an eventual bill. He did it with gay marriage, and I suspect he’ll do it again. He represents two of the most conservative counties in the state (Ford & Iroquois) and hasn’t gotten as much of a hint of a primary challenger. He’s doing things right, and he’s the future of the GOP in our state.

    For Democrats, I nominate Sen. Bill Haine. He respresented a district which is trending more conservative with a thoughtful, independent approach. As the Democratic party moves farther and farther left, we’ll miss a guy with Sen. Haine’s intellect and thoughtfulness in the Senate.

  13. - Leatherneck - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:12 pm:

    D- Melinda Bush, her efforts to change the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield and fighting for gender equality does not get enough attention. She also showed determination and leadership by getting an army of women elected to office up and down the ballot in Lake County. She is also one of the funniest people under the dome.

    R, Althoff, she had an ability to get people from both sides to come together that will be missed. However, I will not miss trying to track all of the bills she introduced each year.

  14. - A guy - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:20 pm:

    ==Best GOP- Jim Durkin.==

    I’m thinkin’ this one ain’t gonna count, or Rich missed an important update.

  15. - TNR - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:25 pm:

    Republican: Dale Righter. Having to be the attack dog during floor debates is a tricky job. You have to criticize every major piece of the legislation the majority brings and do it effectively without being disrespectful to the sponsor or the institution. If you burn too many bridges, good luck taking care of your district.

  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:27 pm:

    For Republicans, Pam Althoff. There are good politicians and then there are good legislators. Sen. Althoff was a great legislator respected by both sides on a wide range of issues. She will be missed as a lawmaker

  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:29 pm:

    For best Democrat…Sen. Andy Manar for recognizing the importance of public education.

  18. - TNR - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:31 pm:

    Sorry, accidentally hit the send button on my iPhone.


    Righter accomplishes those things and gets bonus points for standing up to the governor on the budget last year, proving he puts the interests of his district over partisanship.

    Democrat: Bill Haine. A class act and true statesman. I love his historical references and he has a great sense of humor. Not to mention, he’s a real workhorse when it comes to passing legislation. He will be missed.

  19. - Some Snark, But Seriously - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:45 pm:

    Senator Nathwani deserves the Golden Horseshoe for best Republican State Senator. 1) He beat the odds and was appointed to the position over the incumbents chosen successor. 2) As the first Indian American to serve in the Illinois State Senate he broke new ground for his community (and probably pissed off Senator Elect Villivalam). 3) He added much needed diversity to a bland roster of republicans, even if for a short time. And finally,4) I will argue that in his one week of being in the Senate, Nathwani did more for his caucus than any one else in such a short time. Nathwani successfully pulled one over on the Dems during the over ride of HB1262 where Nathwani voted yes and then suddenly couldn’t be found when a verification of the vote was called. Some snark, but seriously…

  20. - Chuck Lane - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 3:48 pm:

    Best Dem: Andy Manar- Senator Manar worked tirelessly to get school funding reform passed- a task that almost seemed impossible. He consistently does what is right not just what is easy. A true champion for Illinois schools!

  21. - Some Snark, But Seriously - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:01 pm:

    Senator Biss deserves the Golden Horseshoe for best Democratic State Senator. Biss knew that running for Gov meant he was giving up his Senate seat, and did it anyway because he wanted to use his voice and his moment to push for a better set of ideals. Many of the bills he filed in the GA were never going to make it into law, but he filed them any way to have a conversation and always push it towards the big issues. Everyone knows he is intelligent, but the best thing about him is that he tries to use that intelligence to make real change for those who need it.

  22. - Truthiness - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:10 pm:

    ==the only downstate democratic state senator that has a position of importance==

    Hey truthteller, when did Clayborne give Manar his leadership position?

  23. - dogmom101 - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:22 pm:

    D- Andy Manar. He is a downstate democrat that is respected by both his party and those on the other side of the aisle. He has worked tirelessly for a new school funding formula and will constantly go to bat for the people of his district.

  24. - Truth Squad - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:26 pm:

    - dogmom101 - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:22 pm:

    D- Andy Manar. He is a downstate democrat that is respected by both his party and those on the other side of the aisle.

    Have yet to meet a Republican that doesn’t despise him.

  25. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:27 pm:

    Look no further than Senator Manar. He isn’t ever going to be outworked and is one of the sharpest policy minds in the state.

  26. - organizer - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:28 pm:

    I work as an organizer, and I’m no one important. More than once, at times when I wouldn’t have guessed it’d be on his radar, Daniel Biss called to check in and see if there was anything he could do to support workers who were organizing a union. It was low-profile, behind-the-scenes, and there wasn’t anything directly in it for him. It’s clear he’s in politics because he truly cares about people, and I really hope we get to see more of him in public life in Illinois.

  27. - Elliott Ness - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:43 pm:

    Senator Dale Righter hands down, he took th toughest votes (budget) is seasoned, smart, a servant in the Senate for the right reasons. Does not show boat, is respectful when disagreeing and has become the best example of minority opposition. He works to improve policies even when he is opposed. Good man in all aspects.

  28. - merebo33 - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 4:50 pm:

    Upon his retirement, I would like to nominate Senator Haine. His voting record shows his commitment to the lower and middle classes, and his love for his community does not go unnoticed around town. Even through his cancer treatment, he remained active, and he can often be seen walking around his neighborhood, no matter the weather.

  29. - random - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 10:46 pm:

    Senate Dem: Andy Manar. While school funding reform is his trademark, every issue Senator Manar is challenged with, he tackles. He works tirelessly to help his constituents and does so with class. He has earned respect from democrats and republicans. He is intelligent on just about every subject and takes the time to learn the issues. There’s no one that deserves this award more.

  30. - Orland Native - Thursday, Dec 13, 18 @ 11:13 pm:

    Sen. Bill Cunningham should be recognized by receiving this award. He is always willing to go out of his way to review any issue brought to him, no matter how small, hot button, or unpopular. Sen. Cunningham is never too busy to meet with a constituent, or take a call from one. He is completely dedicated to his work, spending countless hours working toward policy initiatives and on reviewing proposals. Sen. Cunningham is a shining example of a public servant. His positive attitude and overall pleasantness complement his leadership skills. Sen. Cunningham is indeed respected by those on both sides of the aisle which is also what makes him most deserving of this award.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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