Now You See It, Now you Don't: Dems Lose Control of WI Senate

Senator Tim CullenNo sooner was Democratic Senator John Lehman from Racine sworn in -- tipping the hotly contested Wisconsin Senate in favor of the Democrats 17-16 -- than a new spanner is thrown into the works. Democratic Senator Tim Cullen announced he was leaving the Democratic caucus to serve as an Independent.

Cullen is considered by many to be on the conservative end of the Democratic caucus, but he joined colleagues in leaving the state when Governor Scott Walker introduced his anti-collective bargaining bill in February of 2011 and stayed out of the state even though Walker admitted to calling him to cajole him back.

Last week, the Democrats celebrated their new majority by swearing in a new Senate President (Fred Risser) and Majority Leader (Mark Miller) and moving into new Senate offices. As per tradition, the party in charge gets the larger 1st floor Capitol offices while the minority party is relegated to the attic.

The dust had barely settled when Cullen made his announcement, miffed that he was the only member of the Democratic caucus who had not been appointed to chair a committee.

Wisconsinites are wondering, will Mark Miller send flowers? Will Scott Fitzgerald have Cullen for dinner? Will there be more shuffling of the chairs on the deck? Stay tuned.

You can read Cullen's letter here.

Mary Bottari

Mary Bottari is a reporter for the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). She helped launch CMD's award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation and is a two-time recipient of the Sidney Prize for public interest journalism from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.


Hailing from a WI county where the local Democratic Party gatekeepers refuse to entertain any discussion of holding our less than esteemed POTUS to any sort of small, "d," democratic principles, where the DPW cannot find room for a Progressive or a Labor Caucus under their, "big," umbrella, or where no specific legislative policy initiative goals are being allowed to be spoken of by the supposed, "Democratic Party," candidates, most of whom don't even put the, "D," party label on their campaign advertising, a move to declare independence from a party to get some recognition and attempt wield some influence should have been expected.