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King announces he’ll stick with Democratic caucus despite Republican takeover of Senate majority

Christopher Cousins | BDN
Christopher Cousins | BDN
Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King announces on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, at his home in Brunswick, that he'll continue to caucus with Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King said Wednesday that he will continue to caucus with Democrats in order to ensure that Maine continues to have a senator with pull on both sides of the aisle in Washington.

King has been caucusing with majority Democrats since 2012 and as a result has served on the armed services and budget committees, as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence. However, Democrats lost their Senate majority in Tuesday’s elections, prompting King to call reporters to his home in Brunswick on Wednesday.

“After a great deal of thought and conversations with senators from both parties I have decided to remain with the Democratic caucus. … It does not mean I have made a promise to anyone to support the Democratic position on any issue that comes before the Senate. Sometimes I’ll agree with the caucus decision and sometimes I won’t,” said King, who added that he believes his most effective role is to “pull my colleagues toward the center.”

In April of this year, King raised the possibility that he might switch to the Republican caucus after this year’s election, but Wednesday’s announcement laid that to rest. King has positioned himself as a moderate relative to both major parties and among a slew of endorsements he made this year was Republican Sen. Susan Collins, another moderate. Part of King’s reasoning for staying put was to cement his and Collins’ working relationship.

“It takes votes from members of both caucuses to get anything done,” said King. “The relationship that Susan and I had and our ability to work both caucuses on behalf of Maine is I believe one of Maine’s most valuable assets in the Senate. … Susan Collins has taught us how an effective centrist can work in the Senate minority by building bridges.”

Collins reciprocated King’s admiration.

“No matter which party Angus caucuses with, he is an effective legislator who has already proven that he has the ability to work well with people of varying political points of view,” said Collins in a written statement. “He is also a great partner when it comes to working on issue affecting Maine. While I certainly would have enjoyed having him in the Republican caucus, I respect and understand his decision.”

King added that his independence has been respected by the Democrats, which is an advantage he does not want to lose.

“My independence has always been respected,” said King. “I was not pressured to vote the party line, and I was listened to and actively consulted as caucus positions were developed. … In the end, who I caucus with is less important than who I work with.”

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