Hobbs health director nomination fails in state senate

Dr. Theresa Cullen as expected to continue as Pima County's health director.
Dr. Theresa Cullen as expected to continue as Pima County's health director.(Pima County Health Department)
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 11:05 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Dr. Theresa Cullen will not lead the state Department of Health Services. Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs claims to have withdrawn her nomination after overwhelming rejection from Republicans in the state Senate. However, state senate republicans say they rejected her nomination.

Hobbs said she made the decision because Cullen didn’t want to proceed as the nominee. The Senate Committee on Director Nominations was highly critical of Cullen’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Cullen was serving as Pima County’s health director.

“We have Dr. Cullen on record in a number of media publications stating she supported the scientifically baseless and prolonged school closures, business closures, lockdowns, curfews, mask mandates, vaccine mandates and public shaming of those who did not comply with her discriminatory COVID directives, including her support for race-based public health policy,” said Committee Chairman Jake Hoffman.

According to the Associated Press, the county had some of the most stringent public health rules and often was with at odds with former Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican. Senate Republicans said Pima County overreached during the pandemic on school and business closures, lockdowns, curfews and mask and vaccine mandates, and questioned Cullen’s decisions as scientifically baseless.

“While the state job hasn’t worked out, I love being Pima County’s public health director and there remains a lot of work to do making Pima County one of the healthiest counties in the country,” Cullen said in a statement. Cullen will now remain in the Pima County job.

“As long as Republicans choose politics over the people of Arizona, some of the most talented and qualified candidates will choose not to enter state service, and it is the people of Arizona who will suffer most because of these political games,” Hobbs said following the announcement.

“The fact that Katie Hobbs thinks Dr. Cullen is fit to serve in a statewide public health role proves how radical and out of touch Hobbs is with the people of Arizona,” Jake Hoffman, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Director Nominations, said in a statement.