The PJ Tatler

Maine Senator-Elect Wants Independence Guarantee Before Caucusing

The independent senator-elect replacing retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe maintains that he still hasn’t decided which party he’ll caucus with in the 113th Congress.

Former Maine Gov. Angus King will have meetings as soon as this weekend with both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“There are really two criteria that I have honed it down to. And one is the extent I can maintain my independence, and the second is how effective I can be on behalf of Maine,” King told CNN.

“I ran on the platform of trying to call them as I see them, not be able — not be locked into a party position one way or the other. And that’s what I want to try to maintain,” he stressed.

King says he ran for office for the “mirror image” of why Snowe chose to retire: gridlock in Washington.

“I hope I can be a bit of a bridge between the two parties. …I can’t believe it is only people in Maine who are reading it this way.”

King told MSNBC that the caucusing decision will probably only come down to committee assignments.

“I’ve looked pretty carefully at the Senate rules and although there is a rule that says every Senator is entitled to be on two A committees, major committees, then there’s another rule that says essentially the caucuses make those committee assignments,” he said. “…So this is a bit of uncharted territory.”

On Fox, King said an assumption that he’s really a Democrat and will automatically caucus with them would “come as quite a surprise to the Democrats in Maine.”

“When I was governor, I worked with both sides,” he said. “I vetoed — I was an equal opportunity guy with the veto pen. My bills in the legislature, I think I had 800 sponsored by Democrats and 750 by Republicans. So, I really do try to work with both sides.”

King recalled “one glorious six-week period I had both parties picketing my office.”

“I’ve never met anybody who has all the answers, and that means collectively you make better decisions. And that’s the way I’d like to see it work,” he said.