Cullen leaving Senate Democratic Caucus after "weak" appointment offer
Post by Emily Mills on 7/24/2012 4:03pm
Update 5:11 p.m.: Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) announced Tuesday that he will leave the Senate Democratic Caucus and is considering dropping the party entirely in favor of becoming an Independent.
Cullen harshly criticized new Majority Leader Mark Miller for a "weak" offer to have the 15th District senator chair the Small Business and Tourism Committee. Cullen claimed the panel "didn't matter" and Miller responded by making him the only Democratic senator without a committee chairmanship.
In an email to his colleagues Cullen stressed that he did not intend to join the Republican Party.
"This entire episode makes clear to me that Sen. Miller has no time for my independent ideas and my support of bipartisan solutions to the state’s problems," Cullen wrote.
Miller released a statement late in the day in response to Cullen's decision, saying "I am disappointed in Senator Cullen and the decision he made today. Senator Cullen turned down the chairmanship of the Committee on Small Business Development and Tourism. He told me that if that was the committee offered to him, he would rather chair no committee at all. It was an important committee as small business is the economic engine for Wisconsin."
Cullen had been one of the first Democrats to announce a run against Gov. Scott Walker in the event of his recall, though the senator dropped out in February of this year, after several other contenders had joined the race.
While the 14 Democratic State Senators were hiding in Illinois to stall a vote on the governor's collective bargaining bill in early 2011, Walker claimed that Cullen had been in negotiations with Republicans to end the stalemate, a claim Cullen later denied.
If Cullen does leave the Democratic Party it would leave the balance of power in the Senate at 16-16-1, though Republican Sen. Rich Zipperer will be leaving in August to join Walker's administration as deputy chief of staff, which would bring it to 16-15-1.
The state Senate does not meet in legislative session again until the new year.The Democrats officially became the majority party in the Senate after a recall election against Republican Van Wanggaard resulted in his defeat by Democratic challenger John Lehman.
Miller was sworn in as Majority Leader last week.
Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at