Senate President John Cullerton To Retire After 40 Years In Office

Dave Dahl
November 14, 2019 - 9:15 pm

Springfield, Illinois.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- What happened after the fall veto session ended probably overshadows anything that happened during it. 

Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told his Democratic caucus after adjournment Thursday that he is retiring in January, a big surprise to colleagues, even Gov. JB Pritzker. 

“I’m very sorry to see him leave his position," said Pritzker to reporters as he left the Capitol. "We’ve shared a lot of goals for the state, and, of course, he’s my state senator.”

In a statement, Cullerton said the decision fulfills a promise to his wife: to retire after turning 70, after a Democrat again becomes governor.

The news was a surprise, said State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago).

“If you get to know him and spend any time with him, one of the things that becomes evident is he loves his job," Cunningham said. "He loves being Senate president. He loves being a legislator.”

Cunningham added that the four years Republican Bruce Rauner was governor took a toll on everyone, and that with Democrat Pritzker in office for a year, Cullerton probably sees now as a good time to leave.

It’s expected the Senate Democrats will be back in January to choose a new president. Cullerton has been in the General Assembly since 1979, in the Senate since 1991, and president since 2009.

Thursday was the last day of veto session, which did not address Lightfoot's casino bill. Lawmakers will be back in Springfield in late January.