Senate rejects Hobbs’ DHS nominee

Dr. Theresa Cullen (Photo courtesy University of Arizona)

By Camryn Sanchez | Arizona Capitol Times

The Senate voted Tuesday to reject Gov. Katie Hobbs’ nomination of Dr. Theresa Cullen to serve as the director of the Department of Health Services, though Hobbs tried to withdraw the nomination before the vote. 

After a lengthy and heated vetting process, Republicans in the Senate Director Nominations Committee recommended that their colleagues reject Cullen as a candidate.  

Hobbs wrote a letter to Senate President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, today shortly before the floor vote removing Cullen as a nominee before she could be voted down.  

Senate Democrats tried to stop the vote, but Petersen said he hadn’t received any former withdrawal of Cullen’s name from Hobbs. The voice vote was seemingly on party lines. 

Hobbs’ letter to Petersen came in today, but possibly too late for review.  

Hobbs spokesperson Josselyn Berry said in a text that Hobbs’ letter was delivered to the Senate at 12:59 p.m. and emailed to Petersen at 1:03 p.m. The Senate floor session started at 1 p.m., so it’s not entirely likely that Petersen would have reviewed the letter.  

In her letter and in a press release issued shortly after the vote, Hobbs defended Cullen and her choice to nominate her.  

“Dr. Cullen was the right candidate when I chose her for this role, and she remains the right candidate to lead this Department because no one in the State of Arizona is better qualified,” Hobbs said in her letter.  

She went on to attack the newly created Senate Director Nominations Committee for its treatment of Cullen, which included three-and-a-half-hours of questioning. 


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February 2023