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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois Senate Democratic Campaign Staffer goes to Miles Sodowski…

Not content with doing a great job on the legislative side with marijuana and everything else, Miles also works incredibly hard on the campaign side. His most recent campaign victory with Aud Crowe is proof of this. Having a first timer Democrat in downstate Illinois is tough these days but he never shirked the hard work necessary to win.

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois Senate Republican Campaign Staffer is a tie: Jake Ford and Adam Zmarzlinksi…

Jake Ford and Adam Zmarzlinksi never flinched when asked to get petitions for the caucus this year. Rain, snow and wind storms didn’t stop them from getting the job done. I respect their dedication and expect to see great things from them next year.

Congrats to everyone!

* On to today’s category…

* Best government spokesperson

* Best government staff/official

The categories can apply to any level of government, whether legislative, executive or even local as long as there’s some state connection. Elected officials and agency directors are not eligible. As always, explain your nominations or they will not count and do your very best to nominate in both categories. Have fun!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Todd & Margo - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    best spokesperson - Ryan Keith. Ryan has clients on both sides of the aisle as well as many municipalities. He handles things in a timely manner and is always on top of things.

    Best Government staff/official - Connor McDermott in the Governor’s Office. Connor has done a great job for Governor Pritzker being the person who handles all the suburban municipalities. He always was able to get his Mayors in contact with the right people in the administration, and always follows up on concerns that are brought his way. He is extremely dependable and represents the Governor and the administration well.

  2. - Attic Squirrel - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 2:11 pm:

    Marty Johnson the Chief Economist over at IDOR. She pulls rabbits out of her hat. She knows so much about so many topics. She’s a total professional and always a pleasure to work with. She’s helped us out so many times. One of the finest civil servants in the state. Brilliant and driven.

  3. - Toucan83 - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 2:12 pm:

    Best spokesperson: John Patterson, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton. Patterson is smart, kind and is a go-to for reporters to understand process, which is so essential in reporting. He’s weathered plenty of Senate controversies with a lot of grace — and good advice.

  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    Please nominate in both categories. Thanks.

  5. - frm co-worker of adam z - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    I don’t check CapFax every day, but absolutely needed to weigh in on Adam Z for best Senate GOP campaign staffer when I saw this post. Adam was absolutely instrumental to a state senate victory in 2018 and so many cycles prior to within the RSSCC organization. Moreover, he’s just an awesome guy and I can’t tell you how many times his level-head kept the cool in the campaign office. You deserve this, Adam!

  6. - Bertrum Cates - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 2:29 pm:

    * Best government spokesperson

    Emily Bittner for her well delivered “up yours” to ComEd that brought many of us out of our seats the moment it appeared on this blog.

    * Best government staff/official

    Alexis Sturm not only knows the answer to your question, but she takes the time to make sure you understand it. She is one of the most generous, intelligent, and approachable power wielders we have in this state.

  7. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    I will second Bertrum Cates

    Emily Bittner has been a strong addition and Alexis Sturm is the smartest person in all of state government.

  8. - Unionman - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    Best Staff/Official: Every staff that doesn’t need to be the subject of a Capfax post

  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    Best government spokesperson

    This is a category with some serious heavyweights in Illinois politics. The past winners alone, the legacy of their work, and the work they still do, it’s really a treat to read some of the best be… witty, smart, knowledgeable… daily the tireless work of messaging or communicating, to stand out among these peers, you had to have made an impression that does two things, for me. First, be able to speak where what you say is in line with whom you’re speaking for, and second, stand out on your own, with your own stylings with a professionalism that’s unique to them, all the while not overshadowing the boss.

    This year, Emily Bittner has shown through her own work that she can more than ably be that voice that speaks in concert and in step with her boss, but can also carve out her own voice, way, and style. It’s one thing to look for a quote for an elected, it’s another when you find yourself looking for the spokesperson’s voice to get that take. That’s what separates, that’s the measure.

    I nominate Emily Bittner for best government spokesperson.

    The body of work speaks for itself, and the Governor’s office is better for having her there.

  10. - Original Rambler - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    Spokesperson, Abdon Pallasch. Doing a nice job keeping his boss relevant now that she is no longer running for mayor or thwarting Rauner.

    Government Official, Dan Hynes. Doing a lot of heavy lifting for the Governor on weighty issues. At times it seems like there aren’t any other deputy governors.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:21 pm:

    Best government staff/official

    This year, 2019, has been a real year of new beginnings and change. When looking at governing this year, you couldn’t summarize all that has happened in a few words or even a few sentences. Agree or not, what can’t be denied was the amount of work done on so many fronts with so many people, and each objective having its own challenges. There are many who helped in getting things done, but as a package, it’s not too difficult to see the fulcrum to do so many heavy lifts in arguably a session not matched with so much done.

    The governor is lucky to have Anne Caprara and this session proved that time and again. The sheer amount of work these items had individually, the real impressive thing was keeping everything moving forward, and everyone focused. Nothing is easy in a normal session, but leading this agenda for a governor in his first session, you take notice of that, you can’t help it. It impresses.

    I nominate Anne Caprara for best government staff/official. The exemplary work demonstrated this year is measured on how is Anne Caprara going to match the work she did for the Governor and the state in 2020.

  12. - Hank - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    I nominate Eleni from Leader Durkin’s office. She’s cagey , plucky and has deep roots in what’s left of the Illinois media .

  13. - Breakin the rules - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:36 pm:

    Spokesperson — Emily Bittner

    Calling her a spokesperson is honestly an insult to the level of work she does everyday. I have never met a person that is so incredibly smart, competent and also a great person. She is one of the most important people in the Governor’s Office and doesn’t get the recognition and shout outs she deserves. There are a lot of people that have their hands in things, but comms is part of every single issue that comes up and this woman is at the center of dealing with every single issue at every single level. She deserves a lot more than an award, but I’ll settle for nominating her for this.

    Government Official–

    Alexis Sturm is incredibly smart and always willing to put aside what she’s working on to help! She’s a great person to nominate because she doesn’t get the credit she deserves for giving the state its first balanced budget in a looooooong time. She’ll also hate being nominated, which speaks to her character.

  14. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    The Governor has shown real skill via his appointments to high profile positions. I agree with the nominations of Emily Bittner (spokesperson) and Anne Caprara (Chief of Staff). Both do excellent work, express the Governor’s positions clearly, and do it all with a good sense of humor. (If there is any doubt, Anne Caprara’s Twitter feed is an excellent illustration of why she deserves this award.)

  15. - Guessing - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    Spokesperson - Eleni Demertzis. No one works harder and fights (I mean really fights) on behalf of their boss than Eleni. She’s knowledgable, respected and in some circles, feared.

    Official - Frerichs. Despite everything that goes on statewide and nationally, Mike somehow is able to stay out of the mud slinging and avoid hyper-partisanship and do his job admirably for the state.

  16. - Annonin - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:58 pm:

    Isn’t a refreshing change to see Governor’s staffers nominated for something besides biggest dope, trash truck driver, sorest loser, etc.
    Patterson best spox
    Jessica Basham best government staffer. Navigated transition, guided new administration into a new era of getting stuff done.

  17. - Salty Hank - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 3:58 pm:

    No question, Jordan Abudayyeh. The fact that she’s a former reporter who knows the Capitol makes her an incredible asset for J.B., and she does an extraordinary job balancing a lot of incoming with a sense of humor and passion for the work. She’s authoritative, smart and reporters respect her tremendously. She clearly enjoys the trust of the governor.

    I second OW’s Caprara nomination. Anne deserves an unbelievable amount of credit for steering this ship. She has won a lot of fans inside and outside the government, mostly for her strong judgment and focus on executing the governor’s agenda. She is a force of nature who has proven to Illinois’ political class that a fresh perspective is good for this old boys’ club.

  18. - Darcy - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 4:00 pm:

    Spokesperson: John Patterson - best in the business. Utmost integrity. And most importantly, tells the best jokes and has a great sense of humor.

    Staff: those who have been courageous enough to come forward to report harassment and change the culture in Springfield and Illinois government.

  19. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 4:06 pm:

    Emily Bittner for best spokesperson. Oswego Willy said it best, but I would add that Emily does snarky soundbites with a mastery that many in politics have attempted and just as many have failed.

    Best Official is a more dificult chalice to fill. The governor’s office has had tremendous success, and much of the credit for that goes to Anne Caprara, who’s performance has been particularly notable when you consider she is a newcomer to Illinois and state government. Much of the credit for the legislative victories in particular must go to her.

    But there have also been notable failures in governance, from the more mundane embarrassments with appointments like Hutchinson and Andersson, simple governance problems like the stop sign in Kankakee or the more serious problems at DCFS, IDOC and IDOT which show few signs of progress.

    One area has had a remarkably flawless record over the last year though, and that is GOMB under the eye of Deputy Governor Dan Hynes. The turnaround from cashstrapped Rauner to a state that now pays its vendors, pays its employees and is paying its debt is remarkable has has been the lack of scandal and trust Hynes engenders. The governor will need all of that public trust and more if he is to pass a fair tax, which is why Hynes’ job might be the most important in his administration.

  20. - Red Line Rambler - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 4:07 pm:

    Spokesperson: John Patterson (Senate President’s Office)
    Patterson has dealt with a lot in the senate this year and has handled it like the true professional that he is.

    Govt Official: Matthew Rigali (Governor’s Office)
    I’ve worked with Matthew on multiple events this year and he is one of the brightest young professionals that I’ve ever had the chance of dealing with. He handles a good chunk of the Governor’s external events and is always on top of his game. From press conferences to bill signings the kid is unstoppable. No doubt about it that Matthew is the best.

  21. - (name withheld) - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 4:16 pm:

    Eleni Demertzis deals with the media, McSweeney AND she’s a new mom. Top that.

    Sherri Garrett should probably have a statue on the Capitol campus.

  22. - Buddy the Elf, What's your favorite color - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 4:32 pm:

    Best Spokesperson: Emily Bittner for all the reasons already mentioned!

    Best government staff: Aaron Holmes at the Governor’s Office. It felt like it took this Administration forever to make appointments and hire staff which made the beginning of session really rough. Once they hired Aaron, it seemed like he was everywhere putting out fires. He’s smart and a hard worker and things run a lot smoother when he’s involved.

  23. - Timesup - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 4:43 pm:

    For Spokesperson- Emily Bittner- smart, hard hitting and thoughtful. She has been a breath of fresh air. Her level
    Of transparency and pro-activity has not been seen in many years around the Statehouse.

    Gov official - Anne Caprara- For someone who has been in Illinois only a short amount of time- she’s had a major impact. Her style of leadership and delegation is one that should be mirrored by the legislative leaders in their own caucuses and staffs. She had a tremendous session and all of us at excited to see what Team JB does in 2020.

  24. - #JustAsk - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 6:03 pm:

    For 2 people that are new to dome….The Bittner/ Caprara team has taken the State of Illinois by storm.

    For Spokesperson: Emily Bittner-Emily did a great job this year keeping the Governor, their staff and allies ON MESSAGE. The roll-out post session was stellar. Emily continues to be on the of the hardest workers and kindest people in State Government.

    For Gov Official- Anne Caprara- MANY people doubted Anne; but at this point in time she can give an official middle finger to everyone who thought that she didn’t have what it takes to make Illinois state government run effectively. She launched into the Spring Session with a bang taking on tough issues that had been on the desks of legislators in Illinois for years, some even decades. She has led the administration to have the most diverse staff in history. If you don’t know Anne, you are missing out. DC’s lost is Illinois’s gain.

  25. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 10:26 pm:

    @just ask

    And again to Anne Caprara:

    Instead of a middle finger, again I ask:

    Why is Marc Smith still director?


    Thomas Paine

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Pritzker thanks Dr. Ezike, extends financial protections, points to progress, says no more daily COVID-19 briefings - Calls Trump tweets "reprehensible" - "I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd, and also to every African American in this country" - Defends budget decisions - Credits Illinoisans for progress against virus - No bill signing ceremonies - Hopes testing progress continues - "It seems as if President Trump is withdrawing us from the rest of the world" - No out of state travel plans - Talks contact tracing - Asks Illinoisans to be careful during reopening - Will sign Medicare for undocumented seniors bill - Refuses to criticize Lightfoot for Trump comments - Talks about difficulties in securing testing locations - Dr. Ezike and Pritzker respond to question about what they've learned about themselves and leadership - "We're no longer in a stay at home order"
* 1,622 new cases, 86 additional deaths
* *** UPDATED x1 *** What in the heck is going on in Rockford?
* COVID-19 roundup
* All metro areas reporting record high unemployment rates
* School seclusion and restraint bill derailed after opposition
* Attorney DeVore asks appellate court to dissolve another TRO
* Question of the day
* Madigan issues new guidance to members, staff
* Architects abandon alternative reopening plan
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* House of worship attendance limit expected to be removed from stay at home order
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Sheriffs file suit against state for refusing to accept jail transfers
* Pritzker says IDPH has offered "suggestions" to churches - Says he's received "pushback" from some private nursing homes - IDPH will file new rule on nursing homes - Still looking at what to do about IDPH rule - Dodges question about Willie Wilson - Employers should use "common decency" when bring workers back - Will wait on feds before making any more budget decisions - Central Illinois hospitalization numbers improve - "We might potentially have to move backwards in the phases - "Not our intention" to make changes to Phase 4 guidance - No plans to dine at restaurant this weekend - No decision about ending daily briefing - Repeats that he has never encouraged police enforcement - Suggests GOP demand for IDES audit could be a "political move" - Still pondering school reopening - All testing is free - Asked about dangers of Legionella in large buildings - Testing and tracing metrics are "internal goals" - Points to federal rules on unemployment and workers who refuse to return - "Difficult for us to open theaters in the near future" - Dr. Ezike talks rules for malls - Dr. Ezike monitoring outbreak at county jail with ICE detainees
* Yesterday's stories

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