Moderate Democrat considered a "cooperative spirit" who can work with both partiesSpecial note: The following is not an endorsement of any kind, merely some thoughts on the recent announcement made by Sen. Tim Cullen regarding his gubernatorial aspirations.
State Sen. Tim Cullen, a Democrat from Janesville, has made it official, announcing that he intends to run for governor when the petition drive against Scott Walker succeeds in attaining the signatures it needs to trigger a recall. He's the first Democrat to announce his candidacy.
Cullen is a moderate, a former State Senate Majority Leader, a successful businessman, and a former Secretary of the Department Health and Social Services in Wisconsin. He served in the State Senate from 1975 to 1987, returning in 2011 when he won election last year.
Often seen as someone who works "above politics," Cullen is well-known as a lawmaker who bridges the two bickering parties together. He has a good working relationship with Republican State Senator Dale Schultz, also a moderate, and was cited by Walker himself as cooperative in nature (during the infamous prank call earlier this year).
Cullen was also part of the group of 14 Democratic senators that left Wisconsin in order to delay passage of Act 10, the bill that dismantled collective bargaining for state workers. But while some of those senators could face scrutiny for "fleeing" the state, Cullen actually introduced a constitutional amendment proposing to prevent such a move again in the future.
Cullen's candidacy probably won't play well with the base -- his pragmatism and willingness to negotiate with Republicans isn't appreciated by much on the left. But in a state that's a murky "purple" rather than a distinct "red" or "blue," Cullen's supposed "weakness" could prove to be his greatest asset among the electorate overall, appealing to Wisconsinites who value that cooperative spirit that's been lost in recent years.
Tim Cullen isn't likely the ideal choice for the Democratic Party or its progressive base -- but he just might be the ideal choice for voters at-large across the state. We shall see.