And the winner of TallyMadness is…Steve Madden

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Congratulations — and God Bless — Steve Madden, 2011 TallyMadness Champion.

It may be the Cinderella story of the 2011 Legislative Session: a #16 seed, with seemingly the entire capital community behind him, wins match-up after match-up on his way to the Championship of TallyMadness. That this journey became part of a larger effort to rally around a beloved family facing an enormous challenge transformed TallyMadness from a parlor game into a symbol of hope.

How the Championship was decided may be the best aspect of this entire story.

After it was announced that Steve Madden would be facing off against Gus Corbella for the title, Corbella, ever gracious, wrote me the following wonderful e-mail:

I’ve been told that I’m one of the finalists in your TallyMadness tourney. I’ll admit the brackets have been a fun distraction from the true madness of the legislative session.

My dear friend and fellow finalist, Steve Madden, is courageously battling cancer. He and his beautiful family are facing this challenge with incredible strength and grace.

If lobbyists are advocates, then let it be clear that I’m advocating for my friend Steve, who is lobbying against a tougher opponent than any of us at the Capitol will ever face. I know I speak for countless other colleagues when I say we stand behind Steve and his family, confident that he will fully recover and rejoin us in the Capitol trenches soon.

I ask that you register my vote for Steve Madden, and please withdraw my name from further consideration. Go Madden!

Thanks very much,

Gus

Pretty powerful stuff, huh? Well, read the e-mail Steve Madden wrote after I informed him that he won:

Thanks Peter,

It? incredible how kind folks have been throughout this ordeal, and for my pal-and former boss- Gus to withdraw just goes to show you how friends and colleagues come together in support one of their own.

As for a ?uote?it? difficult to put into words, but I? have to say how amazed and blessed Carrie and I are to have so many people show their support through emails, phone calls, prayers, acts of kindness, and certainly by their vote these last few weeks. TallyMadness is certainly an appropriate title for the world we work in, and the TallyMaddens are truly grateful for the kindness and support on so may levels.

Lobbyists, politicians and government workers may not always get the best rap in the “real” world but this contest has been a personally uplifting and humbling example for me that at the end of the day there is no other group of professionals I would rather be associated with and get my strength from. So to all that voted thank you.

While I question the validity of the results and whether there is a need for a number of recounts, I will do my best to uphold the Championship Title for the season, or is it the session; and will happily relinquish the crown upon the call of the Chair!

There is no way I can write anything better than that, so I’ll just close with — again — Congratulations and God Bless, Steve Madden, 2011 TallyMadness Champion.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.