Tim Cullen explains his break with Wisconsin Senate Democrats

State Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville announced Tuesday that he is leaving the Democratic caucus after being snubbed on committee assignments, erasing the Democrats’ new majority in the Senate.

In an email to his Democratic colleagues, Cullen wrote “Sen. [Mark] Miller has made clear that he does not value or need my presence in the Senate committee leadership and, quite obviously, in the Senate Democratic Caucus.”

In a news conference in his office Tuesday, Cullen said he would not become a Republican, but might decide to become an independent.

The Democrats had just wrestled control of the Senate
from Republicans in the June 5 recall elections — results that were not finalized until Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) decided two weeks ago not to go to court to contest his loss. His challenger, Democrat John Lehman, was sworn in July 16, giving the Democrats a 17-to-16 edge in the Senate.

Cullen said the Republicans did not coax him to their side. “The Republicans have not offered me anything, and I
have not talked to them.”

Cullen was first elected to the Senate in 1974 and served as the majority leader three times, the post Miller now holds. Cullen served in the Senate until 1987, when he left to become the state’s Secretary of Health and Social Services under Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson. He was reelected to the Senate in 2010.

Although he’s always been viewed as a centrist, Cullen
was among the “Wisconsin 14″ who left the state in 2011 to stall Gov. Scott Walker’s attempts to end collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.

A reminder of that time — a firehat with a “Wisconsin
14 Cullen” badge on the front — sat in his office Tuesday afternoon.

When a reporter asked him about it, Cullen said: “I have many friends in the Senate Democratic Caucus and I’m
certain I will continue to have them. So that’s not a concern of mine,” he said. “These are a whole new series of events, and that’s now a time in the past.”

Cullen added: “I do still believe that going to Illinois was the right thing to

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