Former Democratic state Sen. Tim Cullen announced he will not run for governor in 2018, saying the chase for contributions to fuel a bid would be “demeaning.”
Cullen, of Janesville, opened a bank account in March to begin accepting donations and registered with the state to run. He then started calling friends for donation pledges.
Cullen said while he found support in those calls, the amount pledged wasn’t always as high as he would have liked. He also was told he would need to spend four hours a day calling potential donors, including strangers.
“I didn’t enjoy doing it with my friends,” Cullen said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to do it with complete strangers.”
Cullen’s decision leaves 25-year-old Bob Harlow, a Wisconsin native who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California last year, as the only Democrat who has formally announced an intention to run next year.
Cullen said he has met with businessman Andy Gronik, Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and state Rep. Dana Wachs about possible runs. He also noted he served in the Senate with state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) and was Senate majority leader while Milwaukee attorney Matt Flynn was state Democratic Party chair. Both have indicated an interest in running next year, and Madison businessman Mark Bakken also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Cullen noted that Mary Burke raised $17 million for her challenge of Gov. Scott Walker in 2014, $4.6 million of that her own money. Walker, meanwhile, raised $34.4 million. Cullen said even if he could have raised $12 million for a bid, he suspects Walker will top $40 million for the 2018 race, meaning the former lawmaker would have been outspent better than 3-to-1.
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