Maine’s Angus King To Caucus With Democrats
To the general surprise of nobody, Maine’s Independent Senator-Elect Angus King has decided to caucus with the Democratic Party:
(CNN) - Maine’s independent senator-elect announced Wednesday he would caucus with Democrats, giving the party a ten-vote advantage over Republicans in the upper chamber.
Angus King made the announcement Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol, where he and other newly elected senators and representatives are convening for a week of orientation. They will be officially sworn in as lawmakers in January.
King said discussions with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had left him reassured his “independence would be respected,” but that Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, did not reach out to discuss potentially caucusing with the GOP.
Members of both parties expected King to caucus with Democrats, though until Wednesday he had not publicly declared his intentions. He did not say during his campaign which party he would choose.
It was seen as highly unlikely that King would choose to side with Republicans, since the arm of the party responsible for electing members of the GOP to the Senate ran ads against him during the campaign in an attempt to bolster their own candidate. Democrats, who also had a candidate in the race, did not run ads in Maine specifically targeting King.
On Wednesday, King said money from national Republicans played no role in his decision to caucus with Democrats, and that his pick would not bar him from working with Republicans in the future.
“By associating myself with one side, I am not in opposition to the other,” King said, noting that with a divided government compromise will be essential.
This was expected, of course. Not only because of the fact that the NRSC was running ads against King during the campaign, but because there’s really no advantage to King in caucusing with the Republicans when they’re in the minority and can’t really offer him much of anything. Reports in advance of today were that he was interested in getting a seat on the Finance Committee, usually not a seat that goes to a Freshman Senator. There’s no word on whether that will occur, but I’m sure he’ll be rewarded in some manner. What will be interesting to see is just how reliable a vote King turns out to be for the Democrats.
Another reason for King to caucus with Democrats: the Democratic party is a lot more tolerant of dissent and true independence than the Republican party is. The ideological diversity in the Democratic caucus–Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on one end and Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu on the other–is much greater than that between a Jim DeMint or James Inhofe and a Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski.
The Democrats put up with Joe Lieberman in their caucus, despite his treachery in 2008.
He must be pretty miffed that the senate didn’t divide 50-49, huh?
Indeed, though even the way it is he can probably milk his indie status for something.