Scorched earth: Wisconsin Democrats lose the state senate

Remember the insanely expensive campaign waged by union bosses to recall Wisconsin???s Republican governor, Scott Walker?  Walker won in a walk, if you???ll pardon the expression, but the sole consolation for unions in this staggering War on Taxpayers defeat was that at least they got control of the state Senate.

It was pointed out at the time that this was a classic example of a meaningless, symbolic victory, because the ???Democrat Senate??? would never actually get to convene before the next election, which would most likely return it to Republican hands.

But it didn???t even take that long, for the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Wednesday that Democrat State Senator Tim Cullen has decided to leave the party and become an independent.  That leaves the Democrats with a ???slim majority??? of 16-15-1, which won???t get them anywhere unless Cullen decides to caucus with them.

And he doesn???t seem inclined to do so, because the State Journal says he made his decision ???after Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, slighted him with committee assignments. Every senator in the caucus was given at least two committee leadership positions. Cullen has none.???

Cullen attributes this slight to ???his independent nature and track record of working with Republicans on certain issues.???  He was once selected to be Health and Social Services Secretary by a previous Republican governor, Tommy Thompson.

He said he was offered a ???token committee chairmanship??? of the tourism and small business committee, and told to ???take it or leave it??? when he objected.  In fact, he claims the Democrat leader hung up on him during their last discussion.  He described this as ???blatantly, intentionally, intending to insult me,??? along with the people of his district.

On the bright side, he won???t have to spend weeks holed up in an Illinois hotel the next time Wisconsin Democrats decide to abandon their responsibilities and flee the state.  If he goes with them, the Democrats will probably saddle him with a ground-floor room next to a pack of noisy kids, as far from the ice machine as possible.

I don???t know much about Wisconsin state Senate committees, but ???tourism and small business??? sounds fairly important.  Nevertheless, Cullen wanted leadership positions on the education and health committees, and maybe something on the business commission and transportation projects committee.  It???s sad to think all of those things are considered far more prestigious than tourism and small business, although Cullen???s background does make the health committee seem like a more logical position for him.

Friendly overtures have been made by Wisconsin Republicans, while nervous Democrats are signaling that they???d like to bring Cullen back into the fold.  Even that temporary, slim 16-15-1 majority exists only because one of the Republican state senators, Rich Zipperer, is leaving to become the Governor???s chief of staff.  Thus ends one of the most spectacular political failures of our time, as the unions??? hunger for power leaves them with a depleted treasury, a state full of alienated voters, and very little to show for their efforts.