BRUNSWICK, Maine — Seeking to bolster his independent credentials, Senate candidate Angus King on Tuesday appointed Republicans, Democrats and independents in equal measure to serve as statewide leaders of his campaign for the seat that’s being vacated by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.
King, who won’t say which party he would caucus with in Washington, announced the selection of three Republicans, three Democrats and three independents to serve as state chairmen. Three served in the Legislature while he was governor and a fourth served in his administration.
“I’m pretty proud that people who worked with me have stepped up. This isn’t easy for a party member. They’re going to take flak from both sides,” King said.
King, a former two-term governor, is the leading independent running for the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. Six Republicans and four Democrats are vying to be their parties’ nominees in June’s primaries.
King’s announcement came days after Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York told a publication that he was confident his party would pick up Maine’s Senate seat. The Senate now has 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and two independents who caucus with Democrats.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee accused Democrats and King of cutting a deal behind the scenes under which King would caucus with Democrats if elected.
King reiterated Tuesday that he hasn’t had any contact with Senate Democrats.
“I have had no contact whatsoever with any member of the Senate or any staff member in the Senate. No telephone calls, no meetings, nothing, nada, zip, nil,” King told The Associated Press. “No emails, no texts, no tweets, no Facebook.”
As for his state chairmen, independents are Eliot Cutler, the 2010 candidate for governor, along with state Sen. Richard Woodbury and former state Rep. Sherry Huber.
Democrats included former House Speaker Michael Saxl, who said he never before had endorsed anyone outside his party, as well as former legislators Judy Paradis and Barbara Trafton. Republicans are former gubernatorial candidate Matt Jacobson and former lawmakers Sue Bell and Jim Libby.
Of those, Saxl, Libby and Paradis served in the Legislature while King was governor, and Bell served as King’s senior policy adviser.
King said he had a conference call with four of the state leaders Tuesday and all agreed that the focus of the campaign should be on uniting Mainers and overcoming partisan gridlock.
“That’s the theme — common sense and problem solving, not worrying about which color shirt someone has on or which team someone is on,” King said.