* 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.
…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.
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
Abolished the death penalty
School funding 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.