Out for 3 days, Cullen rejoins Democratic caucus
By: By Scott Bauer, Associate Press, Superior Telegram
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A lawmaker who threatened to abandon the Democratic Party after not getting the committee assignments he wanted has returned after a three-day hiatus, brushing off the political theatrics Friday as a "little squabble."
State Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville left the Wisconsin Senate Democratic caucus on Tuesday after party leadership announced committee assignments. Disagreements about the plan are generally handled privately, but Cullen took his disappointment public by announcing he was leaving the caucus and contemplating becoming an independent.
On Friday, all feelings appeared to be mended. Describing his departure as a "little squabble," Cullen joined Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller to announce his return.
"I feel wanted in the caucus, and that's a very good feeling," Cullen said.
Cullen's threat came a week after Democrats gained 17-16 majority control in the Senate following a recount that verified a Republican incumbent was tossed out of office in a June recall election.
Armed with the majority, Miller set about assigning committee chairmanships to fellow Democrats. The Senate isn't scheduled to meet the rest of the year.
But even if Cullen had left the party, Democrats would have retained the majority thanks to the planned departure of Republican Sen. Rich Zipperer next month — which made the squabble, as Cullen dubbed it, even less significant.
To appease Cullen, Miller created two new special committees on mining and venture capital for him to chair. Republicans failed to pass bills on both issues last session.
Miller said he was anxious to put the Cullen episode behind him and get back to work.
"This is another example of Senate Democrats finding a solution by coming together," Miller said.