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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 14, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Democratic Illinois State Senator goes to Sen. Melinda Bush

(H)er 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.

Andy Manar got a bunch of votes, so my hat’s off to him as well.

* The 2018 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Republican Illinois State Senator goes to 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.

Congratulations to both honorees.

* Let’s move along to today’s categories…

* Best Illinois US Representative

* Best elected statewide official

Remember to explain your nominations or they won’t count. And do your utmost to nominate in both categories. The statewide electeds category includes US Senate, by the way.


  1. - Honeybear - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    Love me some Susanna Mendoza. I’ve seen her at nearly every AFSCME event. She always gets mobbed like a rock star and sticks around till everyone gets a pic. She’s feisty and fierce. She fights for all us workers. She does and we’d take a bullet for her.

  2. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 1:51 pm:

    Congress: Kinzinger. Of the many Republican officials nationwide who are weary of Trump but understand the role he plays with the party’s base, I don’t think anyone has walked that difficult tightrope better than Kinzinger. He’s criticized Trump when it’s been called for but other times defended Trump and helped toe the party line.

  3. - Kyle Hillman - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    I would go with Robin Kelly, she has quietly been supporting candidiates up and down the Dem ticket, has been a force in DC and definitely someone to look out for in the future.

    Statewide: Lisa Madigan. There may have never been a candidiate who was ever under a bigger microscope and bigger shadow than her - and yet she carved out a career that impresses. And let’s not forget - we don’t have a police consent decree with Rahm without her.

  4. - Just Because You Can - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 1:55 pm:

    * Best Illinois US Representative: Representative-elect Lauren Underwood. One of the biggest loses in the 2018 cycle was Randy Hultgren’s loss to a woman who outworked, out-fundraised and actually listened to the district. She is the perfect example of white men losing this election.

    * Best elected statewide official: Secretary White. The man just won his sixth term by more votes than the election when he won all 102 counties. People trust and respect all the work Secretary White has done for this state.

  5. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    Best Illinois US Representative -

    Bill Foster - He has a well rounded political career, started a successful business that employs hundreds of people, and has been personally involved in some of the most cutting edge scientific discoveries of our time. While he’s not a perfect man he has many qualities I think are important and should be encouraged in a public servant.

    Best elected statewide official -

    Susan Mendoza hands down - her focused determination and strong internalizing of her official duties is obvious to even her detractors.

    runner up tied between Michael Frerichs/Jesse White

  6. - Tommy Lee Quarterly - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    Best IL US Representative: In what was a hard year for congressional Republicans, Representative Rodney Davis showed why again he has the right frame of mind and political skill to survive and continue being effective and moving up in the ranks.

    Rodney for his best qualities know how to keep in the middle with the current political climate with the GOP base and those who are against Trump to still be a bipartisan, results driven rep. who helped write and pass the new farm bill and secure more infrusture spending for his district.

    He also one of the most humble, and personal kind of politician who can hold a conversation, remember your name, and really connect on a personal level. That takes both sound political skill and decent character for someone who’s a member of Congress.

    Also have to mention his campaign team who dont qualify for this but deserve it anyway:

    Matt Butcher again was put in a tough, targeted race and pulled out on top in a blue wave while keeping claim, being professional, and having to balance this job with kids of home.

    The Springfield field director for Rodney Aaron Mulvey for his countless dedication to his job. When most campaign workers want to take breaks, this guy would use every minute possible to make calls, knock, or recuirt to build his already hard working field team. That’s why in his speech after a tight win, Rodney mentioned and pointed out to Aaron with the phrase “Doors Matter!” Good person who was really professional and hardest working campaigner in all of the 13th CD.

    No Nomination for Dems.

  7. - UpperDownstate - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    I agree with Tommy Lee. Rodney is out best Congresscritter in Illinois. His personal ability to connect with most regardless of background is what allows him to sneak by in tough cycles and govern in a bi-partisan manner.
    Statewide it has to be either Frerichs or Mendoza. I’ve always been wary of her aspirations in the City but she’s a force. The treasurer has done an amazing job with the unclaimed property division. He took a government program and used it to springboard his name ID. Savvy

  8. - LincolnLawyer - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:10 pm:

    Cheri Bustos for US Representative, without a doubt. It’s one thing to cling on as a Democrat in what is solidly Trump country, but to win by a 20% margin in 2016 and 2018? you are doing something right and I’m not the only one who thinks that. She just got elected chair of the DCCC and many people (including me) think her of doing things could help us retake seats outside the burbs and city area. Definitely the brightest shining star out of all the US Reps.

    Statewide official is also a no brainier for me, Susanna Mendoza. Her work on the debt transparency bill is a perfect example of how she can outwork people like Rauner and win. Good ideas and has the ability to see them through. No wonder Preckwinkle wants her off the ballot so bad.

  9. - Iggy - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:12 pm:

    Best IL US Rep: Rodney Davis. Congressman Davis is the only rep that will take the time and sit down with people when they come to D.C. I’ve sat in enough meetings with staffers from Duckworth, Durbin, Raja, and others. My Clients are always overjoyed when Rodney walks into the room and he shoots straight with them. He’s hard working, personable, and an all around nice guy. keep up the good work Congressman.

    Best state wide: Frerichs, I guess, seems to be the only one doing his job correctly.

  10. - Streator Curmudgeon - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    Agree with LincolnLawyer that Cheri Bustos stands out. Adam Kinzinger, in our district, is not accessible to constituents and refuses to hold town halls, supposedly because of hecklers and disturbances. Bustos is a quick learner and cares about her constituents’ interests.

    Statewide, I’ve got to go with Jesse White again. His continued excellence and efficiency have been taken for granted. I wish all statewide officials were as conscientious as he is.

  11. - anananaomous - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:22 pm:

    Going with hot Rod also. He works the district hard and deserves to keep winning that seat.

  12. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:32 pm:

    I concur on the nod to Congresman Davis. Great person. Loves his family. Loves his job.

    Statewide, agreed on Mendoza. She is very much aware of her voter base and she gets s*^# done.

  13. - JS Mill - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:34 pm:

    Cheri Bustos and Jesse White.

    Cheri has recovered from an early gaffe and works her district. Most of the time she is thoughful and well spoken.

    Jesse White will go down in Illinois history as one of our most popular and astute politicians and someone who did not have to be mean and nasty to get there. The antithesis to Rauner.

  14. - Em - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    Agree with the nominations for Rodney, and Bustos is a close second for the same reasons. Both of them have been extremely adept at working for the goals of their party while remaining bipartisan enough on local issues to hold on to their seats in districts that on paper could easily go to the other party.

    Statewide I would have to say Lisa Madigan. Maybe she could do more, but she does plenty while largely avoiding the partisan fray that her father is at the center of. Do you think you could be even remotely effective in Illinois politics while dealing with the shadow of Mike Madigan as your father looking over everything so heavily? Also, kudos to her for realizing that it wouldn’t have been best for the people to have a father daughter tandem as Speaker and Gov, and for sticking to that pledge.

  15. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:40 pm:

    Best Illinois US Representative

    While being thoughtful, and trying to walk a very tight line between constituency and party, 2018 has brought challenges to any member with Republican attached to their name

    Living where I do, I had a number of GOP members fall, losing sight of things, laziness, being out of touch were the cries of the electorate. The area is now under a blue wave for many reasons that include complacency. Things are now quite different.

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger stands alone, and in many ways the metaphor of standing alone is probably why I know I’d nominate him. He works hard, and is respected, and as a talking head, is willing to speak to what needs to be said, not just be someone spouting a party line. Kinzinger’s military experience has served him well, remembering the details while giving unvarnished opinions when it’s needed.

    His district? Probably as good a fit as anyone could be in the state or the country, understanding the balance he must always consider when district-focused, and willing to be that vocal reminder of why his district speaks to the state and country trends.

    I nominate Rep. Adam Kinzinger. His mix of local responsibility and country concerns makes him an asset for his district, this state, and our country. We will see more of him, and that’s good for Illinois too.

    Runner up…

    Rep. Cheri Bustos is arguably one of the most impressive members of Congress in the framing of being an excellent local concerns representative and understanding and navigating the politics to become the DCCC Chair, a position where her colleagues see leadership in the politics of governing. She will be great.

    Rep. Cheri Bustos is my runner up.

  16. - lake county democrat - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    US Rep - Mike Quigley - quietly building his brand.

    Statewide - Gawd I hate to say it: Lisa Madigan. Other than unjustified silence re: dad and the MeToo movement, she’s been an effective consumer advocate and guardian of public safety.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 2:58 pm:

    Best elected statewide official

    While I had reservations about this person a a candidate, and many times I wondered aloud what kind of statewide this person could be, it was in this last year he came into his own and moved away from the metaphors and showed a talent to be someone who needs to be recognized for the good work being done.

    Treasurer Mike Frerichs has slowly moved from making his height the thing to set him apart to being a more than capable state treasurer and someone understanding that politics and noise for its own sake isn’t always the best avenue to be the beast at your job. Making noise and being visible when warrented, Frerichs has toned down while ratcheting up a first term that sets him up for a solid second term and beyond. I say often the best way to a better position is do your current position best, and Frerichs is doing that, and in the long run will find himself in places where he hopes, by doing the hard work now, less the gimmicky height jokes.

    Frerichs has elevated his game by running a strong office, and the need to elevate his profile will be measured by his good work, not the puns pointing to his height.

    I nominate Treasurer Mike Frerichs, and I hope his continued work, the “boring” work, the needed work, will allow him to rise to greater heights, which his how I measured when making this nomination.

  18. - Soccermom - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 3:27 pm:

    Kinzinger stood up for MBS in the face of Khashoggi’s horrific murder. If he’s the best we’ve got, we’re in trouble.

  19. - Stanley Perchenko - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 3:36 pm:

    Robin Kelly is down to earth, passionate about reducing gun violence, a champion of economic development in her district, and someone who unites rather than divides people and politicians.

    Lisa Madigan has spent her career fighting for justice for Illinois residents and being an effective advocate for fair and just causes.

  20. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    - Soccermom -

    Thanks for the link, I’m always learning.

    Appreciate it.


  21. - Question - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 3:46 pm:

    Rodney Davis - Rodney works his district like mad. In a crazy year, they sent him back, even with all those college kids voting the other way.

  22. - Question - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 3:48 pm:

    For the Judy Baar topinka statewide award, I’m gunna have to go with Jesse white. The dmv has taken a long time to improve, but it really is much better now. He’s done good.

  23. - lake county democrat - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    I’m waiting for a members of Congress, or member of the media, making an issue of Khashoggi’s torture/murder, say a word about punishing known nations, including recipients of US Aid, who also torture and murder those critical of the state. It’s as-if they’ve never heard of Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, or have access to CIA reports. It’s like they seriously believe Saudi Arabia is the only nation caught doing this. Khashoggi’s torture and murder is merely a weapon to most of them to use against Trump. The last president to make human rights any sort of meaningful consideration in foreign policy was Carter and he was ridiculed for it.

  24. - Indigo - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 4:35 pm:

    US Rep: Mike Quigley. On policy, huge contributions to Intelligence Committee work investigating the various election scandals, but doing it in a thoughtful and serious way. Critical of Trump in a thoughtful way, trying to be persuasive to folks in the middle instead of fueling the outrage machine. Most importantly, with the hope of an infrastructure bill, will be an Appropriations “Cardinal”, chairing an Appropriations subcommittee.

    Statewide: Have to say Mendoza — did more with less, and successfully shaped the narrative of the Rauner administration more effectively than legislative leaders with a lot more experience and power

  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 5:27 pm:

    Thinking outside the political box, to what officeholders have actually accomplished, my nomination for Congress goes to retiring Congressman Luis Gutierrez. He has been a tireless, outspoken leader on immigration throughout his career, willining to stand up to and criticize leaders of both parties. More recently, he has worked both publicly and behind the scenes to help his native Puerto Rico recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. His leadership overshadows all of his peers in the Illinois delegation over the last two years.

    Statewide, I think there ought to be some acknowledgement of the political leadership of Senator Durbin: publicly calling for change within the Democratic Party in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations; working to field and elect tenacious Congressional candidates across the state, and helping to rebuild the party at the county level.

    That said, on the government side I am admittedly biased in favor of Treasurer Frerichs. In contrast to the mismanagement and financial chaos of the Rauner administration, Frerichs has been an impressive administrator, strong financial steward, and national policy leader. His fight against the insurance industry on unclaimed property was a resounding victory for consumers. He has made Illinois 529 college savings programs best in the nation. He brought together more than a a dozen states led by Treasurers from both parties to create life-changing savings plans for people with disabilities. And his new retirement savings program, Secure Choice, was featured in the Wall Street Journal just last weekend. I don’t think there is another statewide officeholder that can claim those kinds of results over their current term.

  26. - Soccermom - Friday, Dec 14, 18 @ 6:28 pm:

    LCD, you’ll get no argument from me.

  27. - J.K. Rollin Bluntz - Saturday, Dec 15, 18 @ 2:06 pm:

    Completely disagree with these nominations for Davis. Framing yourself as bipartisan is one thing. Actually voting that way and standing against your party leaders on important issues is another thing, and Davis consistently fails in that regard. Bustos deserves a lot of recognition for all she’s done for her district and all the other 2018 Dem candidates for Congress. Her Build the Bench program training Dems how to run for office is sorely-needed in Illinois. Her Cheri on Shift series is representation and “earning it” at its best. She’s going to do great things.

  28. - Pot calling kettle - Saturday, Dec 15, 18 @ 8:27 pm:

    Congressperson: Cheri Bustos. She moving forward in DC, she is very attentive to her district, AND she has been running workshops to help local Dems inside and outside her district run better campaigns. She’s doing a lot and has been doing it all very well.

    As a side note, I am familiar with Kinzinger, and while he may do a lot of things that look good, the substance is lacking. He’s not attentive to the district, and he’s not helping the local folks. He does enjoy being on national TV.

    For best state-wide, it’s hard not to go with Susana Mendoza. The bills she has passed through the GA will benefit the state for many years. The monthly reporting of all outstanding bills will allow the Comptroller and the budgeteers to know where we are financially as they write the next year’s budget. Over time, we will be able to see patterns in spending and then note if an agency is not following past patterns. I know some folks are disappointed that she immediately jumped into the race for mayor, but that’s an artifact of the election cycle. Personally, I would rather she keep her no-nonsense, practical management skills in Springfield. I think she will keep JB and the GA honest on the financial stuff when there will be a lot of temptation to take a few short-cuts.

  29. - The Capitol's Elf on the Shelf - Tuesday, Dec 18, 18 @ 12:06 am:

    Best IL Congressman: Rodney Davis. Gets things done for his district like the farm bill, transportation project funding, supporting veterans, and acts to promote opportunities for women in politics through advocacy and having a majoirty female staff including his cheif of staff and district cheif. Rodney is also a bipartisan legislator who knows his base but can work with Democrats to get things done while being civil.

    Best Statewide Official: Going to be one that doesnt get much attention but the Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti deserves recognition. Although her office doesn’t have any specific duties outside of being 2nd in line and doing what the governor wants, Sanguinetti and her staff have done a lot on the issue of local government consolidation, reducing LLC fees (she took the lead on that before Rauner), rural education and healthcare, and aggressively working to fight against and recommend the best policies that help those suffering from opioids. She may not get most attention due to the position or administration, but the Lt. Gov has done good work she can be proud of during her 4 years of service.

  30. - Wolf in Sheeps Clothing - Tuesday, Dec 18, 18 @ 11:37 am:

    Echoing some other comments here, the nominations for Davis seem to be coming from a different universe. The guy ran against the ACA from the get go, voted against it dozens of times, and then had the gall to claim he voted to protect pre-exsisting conditions. He’s a scam artist like every other member of the House GOP that railed for years against the “abuses of power,” of the Obama administration, but has stayed dead silent during this administration.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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