Sen. Tim Cullen bowed out of the expected recall race for governor Wednesday, citing fundraising concerns and the nasty nature of the race as reasons.
"While I continue to believe I would be a strong candidate in the general election, I have concluded that I cannot raise the $1 million to $2 million necessary to deliver my message against at least three possible primary candidates who are far better known than I am, have access to financial resources above what I can raise, and have better statewide networks at this time," Cullen told reporters. "In short, too uphill in too short of a time."
The Janesville Democrat's announcement leaves former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk as the only official candidate in the likely recall election later this year against Gov. Scott Walker.
Several other Democrats have expressed possible interest in running against Walker.
They include Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Middleton; Rep. Peter Barca of Racine; Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma; Wisconsin Fire Fighters Association President Mahlon Mitchell; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost the governor's race to Walker; Congressman Ron Kind and former Congressman Dave Obey.
Known as a moderate, Cullen took a 24-year hiatus from the Legislature before being re-elected to the Senate in 2010.
He worked with Republicans in an attempt to broker a deal after he and the 13 other Senate Democrats headed to Illinois in February to block a vote on Walker's proposal to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers.
Republicans Senators ended up using a procedural maneuver to pass the bill in their absence.
"I came to Madison as a centrist and discovered that there was no center," Cullen says.
Cullen says he met in recent weeks with several of the state's large unions. He described their interest in him as a candidate as "respectful indifference."
"I was not having a lot of groups saying they would support me in a primary," Cullen says. "And I don't have a lot of rich friends."
Cullen told reporters that as someone who recently ran for re-election on a platform to unite rather than divide the state, he felt he could accomplish more by staying in the Senate.
"Continuing to try to deliver that message in what will be the most angry, partisan race in Wisconsin history would have been impossible," he says.
He added that the partisan nature of the race will make it impossible for whoever wins to reunite the state.
"As a state senator, I intend to accomplish what I have concluded that the winner of this election will not be able to do," he added.
Following Cullen's announcement, Falk released a statement saying the senator has a "long record of principled service to the people of Wisconsin."
"I look forward to working with him and the more than one million people who have signed the recall petitions against Gov. Walker so that together we can restore openness, transparency and accountability and undo the damage Gov. Walker has done to the people of Wisconsin," she said.