Former Dem state Sen. Tim Cullen announced Wednesday he will not run for guv in 2018, saying the chase for contributions to fuel a bid would be “demeaning.”
Cullen, of Janesville, opened a bank account earlier this month 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 Dem who has formally announced intentions to run next year.
Cullen said he has met with businessman Andy Gronik, Jefferson County DA Susan Happ, Dane County Exec Joe Parisi and state Rep. Dana Wachs about possible runs. He also noted he served in the Senate with Kathleen Vinehout and was Senate majority leader while attorney Matt Flynn was state Dem chair. Both have indicated an interest in running next year, while Madison businessman Mark Bakken also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Cullen noted Dem 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.
In the end, Cullen believed he could have raised $1 million to $3 million.
“But that just wouldn’t be enough,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, earlier this year also opted against getting into the race.
“With the lowest unemployment rate since 2000, more people working than ever before, and a bright economic outlook for Wisconsin families, it’s not surprising that Democrats continue to think twice and not run against Governor Walker’s strong record of results and reform,” said Walker campaign spokesman Joe Fadness.
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