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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Friday, Dec 13, 2019

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Democratic Illinois State Representative is a tie between Reps. Kelly Cassidy and Chris Welch. Both had numerous nominations, but this one summed it up well

Rep. Welch and Rep. Cassidy are tough to choose between. They both had monster sessions. Welch passed Voting in jails, Corporate Board Diversity and the NCAA name, likeness and image bill out of the house. And he was right there with Cassidy on Reproductive Health Act and Cannabis. Those two are the best in the business.

* The 2019 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Republican Illinois State Representative goes to Rep. Tom Demmer

Handles countless complicated issues with ease and never is too busy to take any meeting. Instrumental in getting any reforms done June 1 and brought together enough votes to get capital passed. All that and he isn’t old enough to run for president.

We had a lot of very strong nominations this year, so judging them wasn’t easy. I could’ve easily chosen almost all of them. Congrats to our winners!

* On to today’s categories…

* Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

* Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

As always, explain your nominations or they won’t count. And please nominate in both categories or I might dock you for it. Have fun!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ok - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    Please don’t fix their parties. It is too funny as is…

  2. - Ok - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    Ah, too late

  3. - A bored guy - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    Senate Democrat: Manar hands down. He’s the work horse of the senate and arguably has the hardest district to get reelected in every cycle.

    Senate Republican: Righter. He consistently makes great points in committee and on the floor that even dems reluctantly agree with.

  4. - Old Crow - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 10:53 am:

    Senate Dems: Senator Steans, she’s always taken a large legislative load and handles it well. She’s not afraid of a challenge.

    Senate Rep: Senator Curran, from Stergenics to other issues, he’s a level headed legislator and represents his district well

  5. - theCardinal - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    Dem Sen Pat McGuire works tirelessly behind the scenes on lot of things he is a grinder on education issues. He will take tough votes and meet you just about anytime. He will be missed under the dome.

    GOP Sen Craig Wilcox the guy asks a ton of good questions and once he gets your position he will stay with you on tough issues. Makes his decisions based on facts. In his case new blood is a good thing.

  6. - Token Conservative - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:15 am:

    I have nothing nice to say about any member of the Democratic caucus, so please allow me to nominate two Republicans:

    1. Senator Jason Barickman- if there’s a complicated or important issue, he’s likely the GOP point man in the negotiations. He is smart, common sense, young (by Republican standards) and will be a major player in Republican politics as long as he wants to be involved.

    2- Senator Dale Righter: if there’s a better, smarter, more eloquent voice for conservative policy on the floor, I don’t know who it would be. He is always prepared, and asks the most informed questions while making the best points. We’re losing a heck of a legislator with his stepping away.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    === I have nothing nice to say about any member of the Democratic caucus,===

    Happy holidays.

  8. - Demoralized - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    ==I have nothing nice to say about any member of the Democratic caucus==

    That says more about your character than anything.

  9. - Annonin - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:28 am:

    Mr/Ms Token Con. — yikes JumpinJason and a retiree …you must be kidding.
    How Link and Syverson two senators who fought gaming expansion and finally got it done. All the hand wringers can stand at ease

  10. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    Democrats - Don Harmon. Year in and year out, Sen. Harmon can be counted on to tackle the toughest issues and find a way to reach resolution. But it’s his commitment to civil discourse that really makes him stand out. While an Oak Park progressive, he’s always been able to work across party lines to bring people together.

    Republicans - Dale Fowler - Dale has taken some difficult votes because of his passionate commitment to his district. In particular he has been single minded to help the poorest corner of our state and worked hard to bring new economic development to Cairo.

  11. - TR - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:32 am:

    Democrat: It’s not a very original nomination because he could win it almost every year, but I’d go with Don Harmon. Got two big initiatives passed into law this year with the fair tax amendment and gun shop licensure bill. He’s a legislative pro who proves you can have strong beliefs without being a rigid ideologue. If the Dems tap him as their next prez, they’ll continue Cullerton’s tradition of rolling up wins without the partisan rancor of the House.

    Republican: Neil Anderson is another senator who is a true believer — only on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Yet, he’s the furthest thing from partisan figure. He crosses the aisle regularly on labor issues despite being a social conservative. And he passes plenty of bills that are important to his constituents, even if they don’t garner a lot of media attention.

  12. - Unionman - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    Democrat: Link, for being able to be snitch for the Feds for three years and opening up this giant investigation into everything corrupt in Springfield and hopefully bring true change to Springfield. (And if it truly is not Link, then whichever Senator it was.)

    Republican: Oberweis. I just like his ice cream and eggnog.

  13. - MG85 - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    Senate Democratic nominee - Senator Don Harmon - I could list several personal traits about Sen. Harmon that make him a wonderful person, but as someone who is passionate for authenticity in politicians, Harmon is one of the most sincere.

    Legislatively, he’s been a champion for a long time on one of the most important problems in Illinois - our unfair tax system. He was for a Fair Tax Amendment way before it was hip or cool in Illinois, and he finally got to see it approved for a Referendum vote in 2020. I would also say the same about medical cannabis.

    Senate Republican nominee - Senator Bill Brady - It is not easy being the leader of a Super Minority and even harder to refrain from the Siren songs of the fringe to say no to everything proposed by the super majority. Despite having no real political power, he led a caucus to be smart enough to trade the presumption of bipartisanship so they could have a say. That’s the best the Illinois Republican Party can hope for in this climate, and it takes real courage to do the right thing instead of what makes us feel good.

  14. - Anon807 - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    Senate Democrats: Scott Bennett. He’s a hard worker in his district. He carries tough issues like the coal ash bill in a not so slam dunk district in downstate. His work ethic and sensibility removes the target from his back that every other democrat would carry down there.

    Senate Republican: Dale Righter. He carries the water for the caucus on the Senate floor. He works well with the majority while balancing his conservative viewpoints. That caucus is going to miss him next year.

  15. - DT - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    Democrat: Rachelle Crowe, freshman legislator who has the skills of a seasoned vet. She has passed big bills - even willing to take on the governor to do what is best for her district.

    Republican: Dale Righter, even when you don’t agree with him — he still finds a way to get you thinking. The Senate Republicans are going to have a big hole to fill once he retires. We can just all hope they will start training another caucus member to make sane/concise arguments on the floor.

  16. - Governor Bond - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 12:01 pm:

    Dem Senator: Dave Koehler. Thoughtful, insightful, articulate, yet stays humble. Able to work with both sides, and has to since half his Senate district is a GOP/Trump House district. A proud progressive liberal who actually knows how to put a hand out to the other side and find issues of common ground. And he will pull out his phone, click on app, and show ya how well solar panels are functioning on his home.

    GOP Senator: Dale Righter. A proud Downstate conservative who knows that he also has do get things done for the district. Big issues? No problem. He can handle. Accessible to everyone and uses a quick wit to his advantage. Should be a role model for GOP legislators who need to navigate BLOCish constituencies while also getting results.

  17. - MG85 - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    ==Dale Righter, even when you don’t agree with him — he still finds a way to get you thinking.==

    I do not care how much Righter’s point make me question the legislation in question, I will never forgive him for making fun of Senator Hastings’ in regards to PTSD.

    Being a contrarian is important and certainly useful. Filling that role, however, doesn’t absolve virulence.

  18. - The Most Anonymous - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    My nominees are good legislators and good people:

    Democrat: Melinda Bush - she brings feist and conviction to the state Senate. I appreciate that she collaborates with others, regardless of party and holds people accountable, regardless of party. She’s a constant champion for women and her legislative body of work proves that.

    Republican: Don DeWitte - he’s a measured, honest state senator and has no room for the vitriol that can creep into politics. He’s open to conversations about issues when other Republicans might not be. He’s an especially good legislator for his district, a section of the far west suburbs where many residents are more interested in reasonable, fair leadership than in hard R politics. (Though they’re still out there!)

  19. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    I’ll second the nomination for
    Republican: Don DeWitte - he is a calm do no harm type of legislator, he responds to constituent questions almost immediately. He co-sponsored a bill to help the developmentally disabled folks that was signed into law.

    State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt - Democrat
    I will applaud her for her often vilified entrepreneurial spirit around legal weed. If she can stay away from self dealing issues, she can be a leader in empowering her districts voters in taking part in the new cannabis economy.

  20. - West Sider - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 12:56 pm:

    I second MG85, who was more eloquent than I will be. Harmon is a smart, professional, legislator- who never forgets who he is, or why he’s there.

    Brady, consistently makes the best of a weak hand, without the freakshow currently found in the national party.

  21. - NotMe - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    Democrat - Toi Hutchinson. From “My uterus has a question” to hemp, to fair tax, to cannabis legalization, she handles the big stuff with skill, style, and wit. Her contributions to Senate debate will be sorely missed.
    Republican - Can’t really argue with the nominations for Richter, even though we almost never agree. That said, Jason Barickman has now twice pushed back against the social conservative trend in his party to land on the right side of history, first with marriage equality and this year on the cannabis bill. His role in ensuring that the cannabis bill addressed concerns from more conservative perspectives can’t be overstated.

  22. - colleen - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 1:18 pm:

    Senator Scott Bennett! He carried nation leading legislation (coal ash SB9) which was incredibly complex and technical– and he led those negotiations with grace and, of cours humor

  23. - Truthiness - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 1:32 pm:

    Senate Democrat - Senate President John J. Cullerton capped off his career with one of the most productive and impactful sessions Illinois has ever seen. A capital bill, gaming, recreational legalization and expungement, minimum wage, Reproductive Health Act, graduated income tax, balanced budget, tobacco 21, and more. While the President didn’t sponsor all this legislation, he did what he does best and managed his caucus. Luck comes to those who are prepared to take advantage of it, and John Cullerton was prepared for what came after the Rauner stalemate.

    Senate Republicans - John Curran continues to impress. He works hard, builds relationships across the aisle, and is a nice guy to work with. Curran is one of only a few suburban republicans left in the Senate, and he represents his constituents well.

  24. - Peoples Republic of Oak Park - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 1:34 pm:

    Dems- Toi. She had a killer session and if not tapped for the Pot Czar job would more than liklely be a slam dunk for the Senate President job. Also her not being in the Senate leaves a void that is going to be hard to fill.

    GOP- John Curran. A freshman in the minority in an area trending democratic but still maintains decent standing locally and has respect for collegues in Springfield. And also, Sterogenics.

  25. - Honeybear - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    Dem Sen, I second the nomination of Rachelle Aud Crowe. I am in awe of how hard she came out swinging in her first session. She’s easily going to be one of our greats.
    Republican: I second Oberwiess for the icecream.
    What? come on Rich. Isn’t that better than I hate all of them from yesterday?

  26. - McGuppin - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Democrat — Don Harmon. Don is a pro’s pro. He’s an effective leader and genuinely nice guy. Always a go to guy when it comes to working a bill through the chamber.

    Republican — I’ll go with Dale Fowler here. When you’re stuck in the minority there’s something to be said for simply being smart, thoughtful and accessible. He’s all three. And a solid voice for his constituents in S. IL.

  27. - Say no more - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    Democrat - Senator Bush. She works tirelessly to advance issues that matter to her constituents. She also passed sweeping reform to employment laws and was able to get more done on sexual harassment than anyone thought was possible. She made the RHA happen, which really looked like a dead end at times. She is a fighter. All of this while representing a somewhat purple district.

    Republican - Senator Curran is incredibly intelligent and hardworking. He participates in the process and is always willing to engage both sides. He shows up prepared and ready to work.

  28. - Jetzy - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    Senate Dem- Lightford & Manar- this team is too good to break up. Lightford brings her years of experience and heart to everything she does. Her minimum wage bill was monumental. Manar continues to be a go-to for his colleagues, staff and lobbyists. His hard work and practical approach is something to be admired.

    Curran- A friend of labor, he understands district and is always approachable.

  29. - Scout - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    Senator - Andy Manar - if he were a Chicago Democrat, he would probably get more respect than he currently gets, although he is already well respected by those working in and around Springfield. His continued commitment to education reform will always get my vote!

    House - Sara Feigenholtz - it would be sad to see her leave the House and move to the Senate after all of her years of fighting for children and underserved communities. She gets my vote for holding her head up high after being inexcusably removed from leadership, but everything happens for a reason. For her, it’s been all the better.

  30. - Token Conservative - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    ====I have nothing nice to say about any member of the Democratic caucus==

    That says more about your character than anything.==


  31. - Shytown - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:26 pm:

    Senator: I’m for Andy Manar. A natural leader and consensus builder who is hard not to like and respect. Also love lightford and Bush as well.

    House: Jehan Gordon Booth. Have loved getting to learn more about her and happy to see her raise her profile. Solid work on the cannabis front. Important to have more than just chicago legislators sharing in the success of important legislation like that one.

  32. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:30 pm:

    Best Illinois State Senator - Republican

    Although I’ve already thanked this member for their work, I’m looking at this as a reminder that deciding to work within and vote was is right will usually isolate you and highlight your independence.

    As he announced his retirement, i was sad to hear Sen.Dale Righter will be leaving. When he stood out among his caucus, my hope was he would continue to be there and be an example for others. I’m going to miss Sen. Righter, avd although we still have him through January 2021, I wanted to thank him again.

    I nominate Sen. Dale Righter.

    My hope is his example of standing out will be the way for growth in the caucus and help this state after he is gone.

  33. - Yes Sir - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:36 pm:

    For the Dems, Don Harmon. Anybody who quietly raises $400+K in just a year just from clients of the former state republican party chairman turned lobbyist and still has a shot at being sen president in a chamber where democrats have a supermajority has his act together.

    For the Repubs, Dale Righter. Sen. Righter makes everyone think on the senate floor. People respect him. He is the definitely the one who carries the message for that caucus.

  34. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:42 pm:

    Willy, you got a D to nominate?

  35. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:45 pm:

    Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat

    In a caucus now looking for its new leader, this member has a grasp of their district and an understanding of the state politics to it like only a handful can. He’s one of those rare members that representing that district and his party affiliation makes outsiders scratch their heads but those that understand, they know why it can only be him that can do it.

    Sen. Andy Manar is one of those few that can grasp and understand the statewide politics and still be a member that wins a district you’d think the other party should hold. Smart, savvy, astute, and willing to work his own district to keep that connection strong, no matter who becomes Senate President and Leader, they will need Sen. Manar’s counsel, advice, and leadership as an asset they can lean on.

    I nominate Sen. Andy Manar.

    The central Illinois Democrat is the sounding board the caucus needs, and a leader to caucus needs too, if this state is going to have a bipartisan presence that understands all of Illinois too.

  36. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 3:48 pm:

    - Chicago Cynic -

    Out of habit, I do nominate for both when required, I usually do individual comments.


  37. - Labotts - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 4:19 pm:

    Senator Pat McGuire. He is always willing to meet; is incredibly thoughtful and honest; and is happy to have tough conversations, but stands on his principles. And when he works a bill, he really commits.

  38. - Siopm76 - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 4:48 pm:

    Sen. Manar is an extraordinarily effective legislative leader, a master of both policy and politics, a relentlessly hard worker, and a gifted listener. Most importantly, he is a deeply decent human being who is in public service for all the right reasons.

    Sen. Dale Righter is an eloquent advocate for his caucus and his own strong views, he is always fair-minded, courteous, and willing to work across the aisle. He is credit to his caucus and the Senate.

  39. - Original Rambler - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 5:18 pm:

    Dem - Sen Melinda Bush. I would echo all that has been said plus I see her becoming the conscience of the Dems going forward.

    GOP - I would vote for Oberweis for the ice cream but cast mine for Sen. Bill Brady for managing his caucus without it becoming a full fledged circus.

  40. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 6:33 pm:

    I nominate Democratic Senator Andy Manar…because he’s trustworthy and reasonable…I nominate Republican Senator Jason Barickman for the very same reasons.

  41. - Troy the dude - Saturday, Dec 14, 19 @ 3:39 pm:

    Democrats: Rachelle Crowe, she has done more than just a fine job she has been the new Democrat superstar who has worked with the other side of the isle to ensure education and term limits remain the top issues they tackle.

    Republicans: Jason Barrickman. He works hard. He even sleeps in his office for days in order to maximize his work. When he discovered there were staffers lacking he quickly fired them showing he takes being a state senator quickly.

  42. - Illinois FTW - Sunday, Dec 15, 19 @ 2:58 am:

    Democrat- Senator Steans has shown a great talent in working with people in her own caucus and across the aisle to make sensible and workable policy. She also has shown her fundraising chops and is always willing to help the caucus in that way.

    Republican- Gotta go with Senator Barickman, firstly, for the same reasons as above. Furthermore, he is not afraid to buck his own party to do what he thinks is right, and has long shown leadership in the GOP caucus because of that quality. He approaches the job with a sense of public service- and meets with fellow members, lobbyists, or just an elementary school teacher in his district with equal urgency and willingness to hear their perspective. Truly committed to tackling difficult issues in good faith.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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