Angus King to caucus with Democrats
WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWS CENTER) - A week after being elected to the U.S. Senate, Independent Angus King says he's decided to caucus with Senate Democrats.
King made the announcement Wednesday morning in Washington, ending months of speculation about which party he would choose.
King is not joining the party, but will caucus with them, meaning he will work closely with Democratic leaders on everything from committee assignments to getting bills admitted for consideration.
During the campaign, King said he wanted to be truly independent, possibly choosing not to align with either party. But today, the Senator-elect said that to get anything done in the Senate he needed to align himself with one of the parties. And he told reporters that since Democrats won a clear majority, he can accomplish more by working with them.
"The outcome of last week's elections in some ways makes this easy," said King. "In the situation where one party has a clear majority and effectiveness is a criteria, affiliating with the majority makes the most sense."
King says he won't be an automatic vote for Democrats, however, and will try to be an independent bridge between the parties. King says he did meet with a member of Republican Senate leadership as well as Democrats before making the decision.
Political leaders in Maine say they're not surprised by King's decision. NEWS CENTER analyst Ethan Strimling says King's views may be closer to those of Democrats, but he also said that the millions of dollars in campaign attack ads paid for by Senate Republicans and their supporters may have also tipped the scales for King. "It made the decision easier and easier by the day," said Strimling.
He also pointed out that King will be the only member of Maine's Congressional delegation who is in the majority. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, is in the minority in the Senate. And Maine's two Democratic Representatives are in the minority in the House. Strimling says having a member of the majority party should help Maine.