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Question of the day: 2022 Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Government Spokesperson is a tie. Eleni Demertzis

Its been said many times how Eleni is able to successfully to push the HGOP Caucus position on issues in the press. No brainer and she will be missed.

Yep and yep. For whatever reason, a few rank and file House Republicans think their press shop needs fixing. That opinion ignores all evidence.

And Abdon Pallasch

Abdon Pallasch is the Comptroller’s secret superweapon. Yes, she’s great — but Abdon is brilliant at communicating that greatness.

He’s also quite persistent. lol

Jordan Abudayyeh is deserving of a special mention here. Nobody works harder. Nobody.

* The 2022 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Campaign Spokesperson goes to Natalie Edelstein

Natalie Edelstein hit the ground running in a state that doesn’t like nobody who nobody sent. She had to gain the trust of the reporters and the political class, and then deliver the earned media stories necessary to properly contextualize the Governor’s first term while cutting Richard Irvin (R-Ken Griffin) to the quick. After burying Mr. Irvin in the primary, she guided a communications strategy that kept JB’s positives at the forefront and executed a detailed “drip, drip” of Darren Bailey’s negatives at all the right moments in all the right ways. The margin speaks for itself, and earned communications was as much a part of it as great ads and a well-oiled operation.

I, too, wondered if an out-of-stater could thrive here. She surprised me.

Congratulations to all!

* On to today’s categories

    Best Illinois State Representative - Democrat

    Best Illinois State Representative - Republican

As always, do your best to nominate in both categories and make sure to explain your nominations or they won’t count. Thanks.

* And after you vote, please click here to help buy presents for foster kids who are in Lutheran Social Services of Illinois’ programs. Senate President Don Harmon and his spouse both deserve a shout-out for their generous contributions today. Thanks! We’re now above $29,000. That’s a new, inflation-adjusted online record and is far, far more than we ever raised during those City Club events. Every little bit helps, and presents average about $25 each, so let’s keep this going, please.


  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:33 am:

    Will there be a Golden Horseshoe Lifetime Achievement category?

    Thank you.

  2. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:35 am:

    I nominate Greg Harris for a lifetime achievement Golden Horseshoe. He’s won this before, but I’d humbly move to rename this the Greg Harris Best House Democrat award. He was a workhorse, not a showhorse throughout his career and he will be greatly missed for his wisdom and expertise, particularly on the budget.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:38 am:

    Congrats to Eleni and Abdon, it’s quite fitting you tie, congratulations

    Natalie Edelstein, congratulations to you, you navigated uncharted waters for you and you made a big difference in your race, it’s as though no beats were skipped, and that’s a big compliment

  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:39 am:

    ===I nominate Greg Harris for a lifetime achievement Golden Horseshoe===

    That is not this category.

  5. - Just kidding - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:41 am:

    I nominate Jonathan Carroll because nobody else will…

  6. - dr. jimmy - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:42 am:

    Best House Dem Rep…Robyn Gabel. She is fluent on a variety of issues, and she is very approachable. She will fill the big budget shoes that Harris will leave behind.

    Best House Rep Rep…Jim Durkin. Great guy who will be sorely missed when he leaves. Kept that caucus together even when it filled up with eastern bloc members.

  7. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:42 am:

    He remains my nominee for Best Illinois Representative - Democrat. For those same reasons.

    And I nominate Jim Durkin for Best State Representative -Republican, because he did the best he could to lead a fractious caucus with some dignity and grace, never losing sight of his principles along the way. He played a bad hand as well as it could have been played.

  8. - Percy Plantagenet - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 11:52 am:

    HDEMS–Lance Yednock. Lance votes his district and works it hard locally. He’s not off galivanting at receptions in Chicago or makes a big show of everything–he just does his job. A moderate voice who sees the bigger picture (kinda rare these days).

    HGOP–Jeff Keicher. Like Lance, Jeff is a moderating factor in the GOP caucus, and he’s not afraid to work with the other party. He’s bright and takes deep dives when he needs to. If the GOP ever makes it out of the superminority, it will be because they listened to and did the job like Jeff Keicher.

  9. - The Opinions Bureau - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:00 pm:

    HDem: Will Guzzardi is a guy who enjoys a lot of public attention (rightly so) for his legislative accomplishments. What is less often remarked upon are his efforts to organize and discipline the Progressive Caucus. He continues to help newer members develop skills and relationship and plays a quiet role in getting every single big thing that gets done in the House over the finish line.

    HGOP: Jeff Keicher has consistently spoken out against the phony baloney newspapers and other symptoms of the sickness that’s infected his party. He’s a friendly, reasonable, pragmatic guy who no matter the issue you go to talk to him about will immediately try and think about who and where in his district will be impacted. If Republicans get a seat at the table and Rep. Keicher is in the chair, I’m confident more often than not it’ll make for a better meal.  

  10. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:07 pm:

    Pickin’ Greg Harris as Best D and Batty (Mark Batnick) as Best R. Both tried to make it a better place and decided to eject. Zock was my fav, but never pushed eject.

    Congrats to Eleni ….BTW what is the goal of the GOPies who want to retool….bring the caucus to zero?

  11. - Captain, Oh Captain - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:14 pm:

    House Dem: Eva Dina Delgado. She is a strong advocate for her district and continues to demonstrate how to be progressive while being pro-business. She is a hard worker and I look forward to her rise within the caucus.

    House Rep: I agree with Jeff Keicher. He is a great representative of his area, works in a bipartisan fashion, and overall positive presence in the State House.

  12. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:18 pm:

    Dem: Lance Yednock. He’s a rising star who spends his time understanding the issues, working with moderate Dems and Repubs, and not seeking the spotlight. He also pays attention to folks in his district, which caused some difficulties when it was redrawn to be more liberal - some votes he took in the past did not please some of the folks in his new district. He met the challenge by spending a lot of time in his new district meeting with his constituents (including a lot of skeptical DeKalb Dems) and listening to their concerns. The most recent vote tells the rest of the story.

    Repub: Dan Brady. He’s been a Republican leader who was able to represent a district with a fairly large liberal population. Like Yednock, he’s an excellent listener and has been able and willing to work with people who have a broad range of views. The Republicans missed their best chance at a state-wide office by not putting their money and efforts behind Rep. Brady. Alexi asking Dan to help with the transition tells the rest of this story.

  13. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:26 pm:

    –Jordan Abudayyeh is deserving of a special mention here–

    Yes she is.

  14. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:26 pm:

    Best R’- Tom Bennett- One of the best human beings you will ever meet. Conservative but reasonable. Works his district like a pro. Plow horse mentality. Did I mention he is just an incredible and decent man?

    Best D’- Greg Harris 47th said it best…=He was a workhorse, not a showhorse throughout his career and he will be greatly missed for his wisdom and expertise, particularly on the budget.=

    I love a workhorse.

  15. - The Real Bruce Rauner - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:31 pm:

    Greg Harris- Leader Harris is a workhorse, and through his hard work he has led the state since 2017 6 budgets that was fair to Human Services. He understanding of the budget and medicaid financing will be greatly missed and who ever replaces him as Majority Leader and Lead Budget person for the House Dems will have some big shoes to fill.

  16. - vern - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:36 pm:

    Best R - Steve Reick deserves credit for being the only member to back Durkin up on Bailey’s Holocaust comments. He can be personally rough around the edges at times, but he showed bravery in the name of decency on that issue.

    Best D - Jehan Gordon-Booth. She took on the thorniest legislative issue of the year, got deep in the weeds, and came out with something that cleared both chambers. She got some of the most strident critics to neutral without sacrificing any support, and she did it without Republicans lifting a finger to help her. I wish she had been the one to defend the trailer bill on the floor. She earned that credit, and she would’ve done a much better job.

  17. - Suburbanite - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:48 pm:

    Best D - Delia Ramirez. She is a fearless advocate for countless issues that will be sorely missed as she heads to Congress!
    Best R - Daniel Swanson. Whether or not I agree with his ideas, he is very dedicated to issues like veterans’ issues and I admrie his work!

  18. - Rosie - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:49 pm:

    Best D - Kam Buckner. He’s known as the guy who can gets things done. From CEJA to the SAFE-T Act to ghost guns, he’s been integral in the Dems’ major legislative wins.

  19. - Justin - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 12:55 pm:

    Best Democratic State Rep: Katie Stuart has my vote. She keeps winning her district in an area that has seen declining fortunes for her party in recent times. [Disclosure: I worked on her campaign]

    Best Republican State Rep: Jeff Keicher gets my vote. He is a voice of relative moderation in today’s ILGOP that is lurching more towards the far-right Easter Bloc wing.

  20. - Politistage - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:22 pm:

    Best R- Mark Batnick. Always easy to work with and debates in good faith, even when we disagree on an issue. He has become a rarity in Springfield and he will be missed.

    Best D- Bob Morgan. Always well versed on issues. Was given a difficult job (leading the Gun Safety working group) and led it with ease and conviction. Also, a great legislative partner on ensuring Senate bills get across the finish line.

  21. - CornAl DoGooder - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:31 pm:

    Best Republican State Rep: Jim Durkin. It is not easy to buck the trends of your party and try to keep a moderate voice as a party leader, even in a state like Illinois. Good on him for sticking to what is best.

    Best Democratic State Rep: Bob Morgan. What a tough year for Rep. Morgan, surviving a mass shooting and then going on to take the lead on designing a policy response to the crisis. Impressive dedication to his district and his community while dealing with trauma. On top of that, he is an incredibly kind person and represents his district much better than his predecessor, including with his leadership on Jewish issues.

  22. - staffer - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 1:42 pm:

    Best D - Anthony DeLuca - No one in the general assembly understands and votes their district better than the good representative from Chicago Heights.

    Best R - Dan Brady - attends almost every catholic funeral in the district, did a great job representing the district he served

  23. - Golden Comment - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 2:06 pm:

    Democrat- Mike Zalewski. His wealth of knowledge is among the best and will be missed. He works very hard on legislation and is a great asset to other members, especially those trying to learn Springfield. He’s also just a great guy to talk to about anything, including outside politics.

    Republican- Mark Batinick has also been a joy to work with. He takes reasonable positions but fights hard for his caucus. He has a tough job basically losing every bill, but makes sure Republicans have a voice. I hope the new floor leader is as smart as he is.

  24. - Springfield Watcher - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 2:56 pm:

    Best Democratic State Rep: I think we have to nominate the House Speaker in this category for sure. No one expected him to succeed in the 2022 cycle. Everyone inside and outside the Capitol were whispering that he would not be able to raise money and/or protect the caucus like his predecessor. Well, the proof is in the pudding. He raised money, and he lead the House Democratic Caucus to it’s largest super majority in Modern History. Let’s not forget about the two years of legislative work and managing the caucus that helped create the conditions for a successful election. Anyone watching Springfield would have to nominate Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch for Best Dem Legislator.

    Best Republican Legislator would have to go to history making Rep. Tony McCombie. The first woman to ever lead a caucus in the House. She tried to unseat Durkin a few years ago, and she finally did it this year after Durkin got his head clocked. She deserves the nomination.

  25. - Snave - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 3:02 pm:

    Best D - Kam Buckner, gets it done without the need for accolades. What monumental legislation hasn’t he had a leading role in? Guns, CEJA, cash bail, CPS school board all have him to thank. He understands how to bring along progressives, moderates and business.

  26. - Mocking Jay - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 3:04 pm:

    Best Dem Rep: Mike Halpin. He will be missed in the House but will do great in the Senate. He is the best rep to work with. He can dig in on complicated bills, he is responsive and he will do the work that needs to get done to pass legislation. Plus he is super kind.

    Best Gop: Mark Batnick. Another wonky legislator that can work across the aisle and knows how to get things done. He will also sorely be missed in the House.

  27. - Rock Island Rider - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 3:32 pm:

    Democratic Rep: Representative “Blue Island” Bob Rita. Representative Rita got multiple colleagues over the finish line this cycle in both Chambers, showing that there is still no replacement for a vaunted ground operation such as his.

    Republican Rep: Representative Mark “The Batman” Batnick. Representative Batnick has always represented his district with class and honor. Even up against a tough challenge in 2020, The Batman stayed true to who he was and showed that decent, respectable politics still has a winning place in the arena. His voice will be missed.

  28. - JoeMaddon - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 3:35 pm:

    Best Dem Rep: Mike Zalewski. Don’t get fooled by his (occasional) sloppy appearance and his tendency to come across as … lackadaisical. He’s smart and thoughtful. He understands policy and the process. He’s far more legislators than politician (hence his loss). His work and voice will be missed.

    Best Repub Rep: Easily Tom Demmer. Just like Mike Zalewski, he is going to be GREATLY missed in the HGOP caucus. His understanding of human services and Medicaid, and the budget in general, is unmatched in that caucus. He’s also just incredibly smart, reasonable, and decent. We need more Tom Demmers in the legislature, and it is sad to seem him go.

  29. - Chito - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 7:24 pm:

    Rep Zalewski has my vote. His bipartisanship, consensus building, common sense, attention to detail, and collegiality are rare in the Capitol. His experience and institutional knowledge will be missed more than others. Hate to see you go, Z.

  30. - Thoughts - Wednesday, Dec 7, 22 @ 10:18 pm:

    House: I think there’s a good consensus that this category is almost beneath Greg Harris because he is an institution and will be missed by Democrats, Republicans, staff, and advocates. If your goal is to honor rank and file, I go with Mike zalewski. Put aside the fact he’s one hell of a nice guy, he’s one of the smartest and
    most competent legislators in the House. He’s straightforward, honest, and kind. He’s served as Revenue chair with honor and dignity, and his absence next year is going to hurt those who try to negotiate issues in the Capitol.

    GOP: Tom Demmer is about as honest broker as you can get and has been an invaluable member of the Republican Caucus. His knowledge, kindness, and genuine sense of decency makes him a standout member of the General Assembly. Losing him is a legitimate tragedy.

  31. - (Sigh) - Thursday, Dec 8, 22 @ 1:10 am:

    Change is hard. In a few short weeks we are going feel the effects of the massive loss of institutional knowledge from two very dedicated public servants: Mike Z (Dem) & Jimmy D (Rep). Therefore, I nominate both. Yes, we are all replaceable, but there will be some big shoes to fill. Often times elected official change, as a result of the power that comes with the job. However, I think Z & Durkin got it. Some of you may disagree with me and that’s ok, but I never had an unprofessional interaction with either of these men. Over the years when I needed access to them to discuss a bill that I opposed, I had access. Both understand the issues and listen.

    Z is a policy wonk and put in the hours to negotiate a bill. To me, he was humbled and honored to serve, not only the people of his district, but all of Illinois.

    Leader Durkin-On house floor, he often threw jabs at those with differing view than his. It was his job. During the past few years, as his caucus became more divided and the republicans had a subpar candidate for Governor, I think Durkin often looked at the circus, did a facepalm and said these are my monkeys. I would sigh too.

    As their names change & they become Mike Z Who? and Jimmy Durkin Who?, just know there are a few of us in government who will miss you.

  32. - Inverted Pyramid - Thursday, Dec 8, 22 @ 5:53 am:

    HDEM: Jay Hoffman. He is the driving force behind the scenes on so many big issues; in effect the shadow Speaker. He is able to bridge the fractures in the Dem caucus skillfully to bring forth wins that did not seem possible. And he has one of the quickest wits during debate!

    HGOP: with all who are leaving, it really needs to go to the entire historic loss of talent in this withering caucus, especially the leadership team. Durkin (surely out the door soon), Demmer, Brady, Batinick, Wheeler, Bourne, Butler, Welter…it is mind boggling how many leading voices are leaving. These are serious Members who fought for good Republican solutions while being able to do it in a bipartisan manner. Almost all the big issues, from Medicaid to Worker’s Comp to energy to redistricting have been handled by these folks. Honestly not sure how the caucus will recover this kind of lost talent, expertise, and ability to find common ground. The GA is worse off with the loss of these Members.

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