Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x4 Durkin, Madigan, Williams, Pritzker, Brady respond - Cullerton statement *** Senate President John Cullerton to retire
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*** UPDATED x4 Durkin, Madigan, Williams, Pritzker, Brady respond - Cullerton statement *** Senate President John Cullerton to retire

Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

* Five sources say Senate President John Cullerton just told his caucus that he is retiring. He told them he’ll be stepping down sometime in January.

More later.

…Adding… The plan now is to come back during the second week of January to vote in a new Senate President.

I’m told he said his wife asked him to retire. He said he’s over 70 and wants to spend more time with her and his family. He said it was perfect timing with the end of veto session.

…Adding… Tribune

Cullerton’s retirement has been “heavily negotiated” with his wife, and will allow him to spend more time with his family and practicing law in Chicago, he said Thursday in an interview with the Tribune.

“Now’s the time,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton told the members of his caucus Thursday evening, after the Senate adjourned for 2019.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Senate President Cullerton…

Eleven years ago I was honored to be chosen as the leader of the Illinois Senate. I came to the job with great optimism and enthusiasm, ready to tackle the challenges confronting Illinois, and with great expectations for moving forward to solve some of the crises our state faced.

I’ve had the pleasure to work with a body of Senate members who were equally resolute in moving Illinois forward and making the changes necessary to grow our economy and build a better future for our children and our communities.

With great accomplishments, and yes, some setbacks, for the last 11 years I can humbly brag that we have made great strides. Our list of accomplishments includes:

    Two capital bills
    Marriage equality
    Abolished the death penalty
    School funding reform
    Pension reform
    Immigration reform

During a time when our efforts were challenged on many fronts, we found ways to reach across the aisle, and through compromise we worked together to get our job done. One of the highlights of my career was working with Republican Leader Christine Radogno to try to bring to an end the state budget impasse.

During my tenure as State Representative and Senator, my focus was on the local district. But once I became Senate President, my primary focus was redirected to the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Our meetings were fun, inspiring, challenging, heart- wrenching, primal and revealing. Finding ways to keep my team united have been some of my proudest and most interesting moments.

I’m ready to embark on a new course. I’ve been promising my wife, Pam that I would retire:

    - after 39 years of duty …
    - when I turn 70 …
    - when we had a Democratic governor …

So now, after 41 years in the legislature and 40 years of marriage, I’m finally going to live up to my promise to retire.

In counting our years of marriage, Pam deducts for the days I spend in Springfield, so she will claim we’ve only been married 30 years. Now all that will come to an end and she will have to give due credit to each day together.

I look forward to watching this august chamber and all you will accomplish. As we all know, there will be bumps in the road, but they will be paved over with new ideas and solutions, and a constantly changing body of members who are eager to bring their own vision and signature to our illustrious Illinois Senate.

Thank you to my family, my friends, and my constituents, whose support and encouragement will always be the backbone of my efforts.

And thank you to my wonderful staff who have kept me on track for the last 11 years. I owe much of my success to their constant vigilance, their professionalism and their humor throughout it all.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady…

“Senate President John Cullerton has led the Illinois Senate with honor and distinction, and our Chamber will forever be better as a result. I have known John for many years, but it has been during the last two years in my role as Senate Republican Leader that I have seen first-hand the integrity, honesty, and humor that he brought to the responsibilities his office entailed.

“We may not have always agreed on how best to address the issues facing the state, but there can be no denying John always put the people of Illinois first. I wish the Senate President and his family well as he begins this next chapter in his life. I am grateful to have had him as a colleague, and I will forever be grateful to call him my friend.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Pritzker…

“In the past decade as Senate President, John Cullerton has been a passionate advocate for improving Illinois — whether it was his focus on ending the scourge of youth smoking, dedication to fully funding education or efforts to advance critically needed infrastructure throughout the state,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Over the years, I came to know John as my state senator, and this past year I have truly appreciated his work to advance our common agenda to stand with working families. I wish him all the best in the years to come, and I know that Pam and his children will be glad to start their next chapter as a family.”

*** UPDATE 4 *** Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) represents half of Cullerton’s district along with Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). I asked her if she was interested in the Senate seat…

President Cullerton’s announcement came as a surprise to all of us. He has been a great partner advocating for our community for many years. I’ll be meeting with Sara Feigenholtz and other local leaders over the next few days to talk about next steps.

And …I will be filing petitions for re-election to the House.

*** UPDATE 5 *** Sun-Times

Steve Brown, spokesman for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, said the speaker on Thursday congratulated the Senate President “for an extraordinary career and a great working partnership they’ve had over a long, long time.”

* House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…

It has been an honor to serve with President Cullerton in the General Assembly and I wish him and his family the very best moving forward.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - ChicagoBars - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:36 pm:

    Holy [Expletive deleted].

    Best to the Senate President and his wife. Wow.

  2. - Pawar Lost - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:39 pm:

    Ameya Pawar announce his desire for the seat yet?

  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:42 pm:

    Wow, the Veto session itself buried the lede.

  4. - Responsa - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:43 pm:

    Any day you can retire from the rat race is a good day.

  5. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:47 pm:

    He surely had a great legislative year, and a great way to go out, on a high note. Congrats and good luck to Mr. President.

  6. - twowaystreet - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:48 pm:

    Remember yesterday when you asked if the day could get any weirder?

  7. - Rise - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:51 pm:

    Senate President Lightford has a nice ring to it!

  8. - Jvslp - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:55 pm:

    DoesMadigan’s wife doesn’t want that for him considering he’s older? Seriously though, who would Madigan want in the Senate President seat?

  9. - No corruption - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:58 pm:

    Anybody but Harmon

  10. - Perry Mason - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:01 pm:

    I would assume that the next president would have to be an attorney

  11. - Tim - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:01 pm:

    One down, many more to go.

  12. - DIstant watcher - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:03 pm:

    So who gets his Senate seat? Both Ann and Sara have quite a bit of seniority in the House

  13. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:06 pm:

    =Both Ann and Sara have quite a bit of seniority in the House=

    Sara has been in much longer and she used to be his district director before that IIRC. Doubt it means much for the appointment though

  14. - Rational Approach - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:06 pm:

    Will there be a final session that includes his famous impressions?

  15. - Helm - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:16 pm:

    Chicago’s casino bill just got a lot more complicated

  16. - Glengarry - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:21 pm:

    Schocker but he deserves it. Wish him and his family well.

  17. - West Side the Best Side - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:24 pm:

    In the “fake news” clip earlier today it seemed like Pres. Cullerton was going to skip into full Richard J. Daley impression. Good luck to him in retirement.

  18. - Right Field - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:26 pm:

    In true Illinois style, it should be Tom Cullerton.

  19. - Norseman - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:28 pm:

    I can’t say I’m surprised by his retirement, although I am surprised by the timing. I hope it’s as advertised or at least non-health related.

    Hopefully, his replacement will have a hard job ahead.

    Have a happy and long lived retirement Mr. President.

  20. - Selene - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:28 pm:

    Good for President Cullerton!

  21. - Norseman - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:31 pm:

    Correction: Hopefully the caucus will pick the best candidate, his replacement…

  22. - I said it - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:33 pm:

    Wish him a long and happy retirement.

  23. - Snapper - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:35 pm:

    Makes sense. Got a lot accomplished in the Spring and leaves his legacy. At his age, 1-3 more years is a large percentage of his remaining life and he had to ask himself if what he could accomplish in Springfield was worth sacrificing his other options in life. I agree with his choice. Enjoy your time away from the circus.

  24. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:45 pm:

    Timing is everything in life - get out now and avoid being embroiled in the fallout of the less ethical members of his Caucus.

  25. - ISUPundit - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:46 pm:

    Right Field, you win………that would be the cherry on top.

  26. - Yep - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:54 pm:

    Yep “I’m calling it a day after 40 years”

  27. - Steve - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:54 pm:

    No doubt Cullerton will be missed. He really was very well liked. He attempted to get along with people.

  28. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 6:59 pm:

    === He attempted to get along with people.===


  29. - Joey Twoshoes - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:01 pm:

    That’s what you get for asking if it could get any weirder yesterday

  30. - Eire17 - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:02 pm:

    Huge fan. Known John for over 30 years. Wish him the best.

  31. - Steve - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:04 pm:


    I was praising him. He obviously got along with most everyone. I threw that out there because he attempted to get along with everyone.

  32. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:13 pm:

    “Ok, - Steve -“

    To the update of Cullerton’s statement,

    President Cullerton,

    Congratulations on your retirement. Known as the “leader ready to make a deal”, your service to Illinois is measured first, last, always, as a member, leader, President striving to keep Illinois on a path of moving forward and towards bigger and better things for our state.

    You’ve more than done your service, I hope your retirement years are as restful as I know they will be enjoyable.

    Your legacy, for me, is the partisan most willing to be bipartisan if all sides can win. Your imprint on Illinois is undeniable.

    Congratulations again, all the best.


  33. - Ok - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:13 pm:

    Like I said, always bet in nothing happening.

  34. - Morty - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:16 pm:

    Of course, Tronc and IPI immediately went for the WAAAAH

  35. - Al Grosboll - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:34 pm:

    Congratulations to President Cullerton and his family. He has many accomplishments to celebrate. John will be remembered for many things, including his willingness to work to reach compromises and his ability to deal with many egos and agendas to get things done, at the end of the day. He will also be remembered for having a great sense of humor. Having worked in the Secretary of State’s Office for ten years, I will always appreciate John Cullerton’s work with Jim Edgar to pass meaningful traffic safety reforms that ultimately helped cut traffic fatalities in Illinois by half. Best wishes to Mr. President.

  36. - sigh - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:39 pm:

    After spending most of my early years in state government in the House, I will always remember my first days sitting watching the Senate work. It was so surprising to see a floor leader walk around the floor chatting with all of the members, laughing a lot and joking, and then clearly having a lot of serious conversations as well. The Senate President fought for school funding reform like a true champion. I definitely won’t ever forget it. Best wishes to the Cullerton family.

  37. - Glengarry - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 7:41 pm:

    Still shocked by the news. John leaves just as classy as he came into public service. I hope his wife finally gives him full credit.

  38. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 9:03 pm:

    I always admired President Cullerton. The Senate Dems are just as successful as the House with more independence and embrace of liberal policies. His leadership is a big reason for that. Wish him the best.

  39. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 9:43 pm:

    Classy statement by Leader Brady. Nicely done.

    John Cullerton’s humor and leadership style will be greatly missed.

  40. - Just Me - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 9:44 pm:

    I know everyone will be falling over themselves to congratulate and thank the Senator, but I think it worth mentioning there was nothing keeping him from fulfilling the Senate term to which he voluntarily chose to run for. He begged his constituents to vote for him and and trust him to serve them in the Illinois Senate, and he is breaking his word by leaving in the middle of his term.

    He lied to his voters, and now party hacks will choose his replacement. I’ve lost respect for President Cullerton today, not gained any.

  41. - Amalia - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 10:16 pm:

    Hmmmm. What about the State Central Comm position. is he still in that? will he leave that? who picks if yes? And, most of them don’t do much outreach to Dems, so could improve.

  42. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 10:31 pm:

    And he will collect his 145 % pension.

  43. - Public Citizen - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 12:10 am:

    Another politician who quits mid-term and deprives the voters of an opportunity to elect their legislator. Now we know what he thinks of the electorate. A poor way to go out.

  44. - historic66 - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 6:36 am:

    Public Citizen, the voters will still get to elect their legislator when the seat comes up. If you don’t like it then work to have the law changed.

  45. - lake county democrat - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 7:17 am:

    I take Public Citizen’s point - I don’t think this is dictating the time of his retirement but the interim pick gets an incalculable boost, and it’s a false dichotomy to tell a voter - especially in this heavily gerrymandered state - to pipe down and “work to have the law changed.”

  46. - Demoralized - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 7:21 am:

    Couple of classless statements here at the end of this thread. A simple congratulations is warranted. Instead a couple of you cant resist garbage talk. It’s just sad and I feel sorry for you

  47. - Earnest - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 8:04 am:

    >One of the highlights of my career was working with Republican Leader Christine Radogno to try to bring to an end the state budget impasse.

    Very happy to see him highlight this effort at bipartisanship on both their parts during a mercilessly partisan period. Health and happiness to President Cullerton in his retirement.

  48. - low level - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 8:29 am:

    Not only all the accomplishments listed here, he also sent his kids to St. Ignatius if Im not mistaken, and that’s always the sign of wise parents.

  49. - Etown - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 8:37 am:

    Why does it have to be the wrong Democratic leader leaving.
    Oh that’s right because Madigan thinks the General Assembly can’t survive without his ultimate wisdom

    Good luck President Cullerton. Too bad Madigan won’t follow your lead

  50. - Hynes Guy - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 8:50 am:

    Senate President Munoz.

    Loyal soldier. Long overdue.

  51. - City Zen - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 8:57 am:

    Thank you for your service*.

  52. - Huh? - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 10:26 am:

    Heard a half of a sentence about this on the radio this morning. Was waiting for a broader story that never came.

    Anyways. Best wishes for a long and happy retirement.

  53. - Levois J - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    Best wishes to Cullerton not only will we consider who will replace him in his senate seat, but who will replace him as presiding officer of the state senate.

    Hopefully there is no health issues going on here, hopefully its so that he can spend more time with his people. That I can definitely respect.

  54. - anon2 - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    Good for Bill Brady in recognizing Cullerton’s good intentions. It’s rare today for partisans to attribute to their opponents the same good intentions that they have.

  55. - Froganon - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 10:47 am:

    Congratulations and best wishes to the Senator and his family. Life can look dramatically different from the vantage of 70. The accomplishments of the last session are a good wave to go out on. Trust the voters to remedy any overreach by the politicians…as they did in the last election.

  56. - Louis G Atsaves - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    Thank you Senate President Cullerton for your actions concerning the renaming of the Adeline J. Geo-Karis State Park. It was a classy move on your part that will always be appreciated by Geo’s friends and admirers. It spoke volumes about you in a positive way.

  57. - the old man - Friday, Nov 15, 19 @ 3:12 pm:

    Take Madigan with you

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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