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State Senator Tim Cullen Back In The Democratic Fold–Now That He Is Oiled Up

July 27, 2012

What a week it has been for sticky hinges at the Wisconsin State Capitol.   If one creaks loud enough there is no shortage of oil that is ready to be spent to shut it up, and lower the rancor.  (Apparently Republican Minority Leader Fitzgerald did not have time to have ‘the conversation’ with Cullen in time to stop developments from taking place.)

Today came news that most were suspecting following the dust-up between Majority Leader Mark Miller, and long-time politico State Senator Tim Cullen.

Sen. Tim Cullen will lead two new state Senate committees as part of an agreement he reached Friday with Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller.

Miller announced at a Capitol press conference that Cullen will be chairman of a committee on small business and venture capital and a special committee on mining.

Cullen also will replace the current vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Revenue, Tax Fairness and Insurance, and Cullen will join the Transportation Projects Commission.

The agreement includes Cullen’s return to the Senate Democratic Caucus.

There was clearly pressure on Miller to strike a deal, and get the miffed senator from Janesville back on the ship.    I continue to be troubled with how Cullen, a man I respect and think politically mature, handled this matter.  It was far from his finest moment on the public stage.  Even after getting some serious committees Cullen looks smaller and mean.  That is a sad ending to this story.

I also was a bit surprised that Miller was not able to sense any of Cullen’s anger prior to the embarrassing news this week, and therefore recommend Robert Caro’s work on Lyndon Johnson as a lesson in how he can better handle difficult caucus members. 

Finally this blog has been a strong proponent of a venture capital bill, along with a mining bill.  With the correct approach taken for each measure there is no reason not to have successful conclusions for each of these issues.  I think Cullen may very well be the perfect person to work at bridging the divide and getting these important items passed.

If that is the ultimate outcome then this past week, while still a sour tasting one, will have had some positive result.

  1. July 30, 2012 7:06 AM

    The entire incident reminded me of the days I filmed with Tim during the standoff between Walker and the Dems. I was in Illinois with him and he wasn’t with the caucus. He was focused on a deal and pretty much ignored all of the drama around him. You see a little bit of this in our film, AS GOES JANESVILLE, which will be released starting at the end of August. I think you can trace tension between Mark and Tim at least back to the collective bargaining standoff because Tim was convinced that they stayed in Illinois too long and that there could have been a deal. Some call him a pragmatist. Some call him a sell-out. I think, frankly, it makes our movie all that more interesting. You can see the trailer at and join our facebook page for updates:

  2. Solly permalink
    July 27, 2012 6:45 PM

    The real lesson from this episode is that Mark Miller is still a cipher, the Dumbocrats are still inept in everything except forming a circular firing squad and nothing has changed under the dome. You can vote all you want people, and as long as the choices are Repugnant, and Repugnant-lite, or Incumbency party vs. Incumbency party, only concerned with lining their campaign coffers. And the Repugnants are no better. “Certainty!, Certainty! Business needs Certainty to create jobs! We can’t have all different local regulations on factory farms.”
    Except when Frankie Lasee doesn’t like windfarm regulations that have gone through the hearing process, because you know, it’s green energy, a several billion dollar industry and we don’t believe in climate change. Drill Frankie Drill. The other part of the story is the Dumbocrats spending thousands in staff time, IT and moving costs to move Senate offices when they could well have to be moved again in 7 months. The only saving grace is that by inventing senate committees to buy off Cullen, I hope they don’t create any more staff costs. In the Assembly, when they create new committees to buy votes, each chair gets additional staff. In the Senate, they get a set allowance for staff, and can spend it as they see fit.

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