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Angus King: Still Independent

(Joshua Miller/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Joshua Miller/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The morning after winning the open-seat Senate race in Maine, Angus King (I) still wouldn’t say which party he will caucus with, though he acknowledged he will probably pick a side.

“Next week is an orientation session. I’m going to be going down, probably this weekend, to Washington and talking to the leadership” on both sides, King told MSNBC. “My goal is to be as independent as I possibly can, but I also want to be effective.”

Speaking by telephone from Maine, the popular former governor said he received a courtesy call from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) but has not yet heard from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Reid’s quick outreach is no surprise — national Democrats largely avoided the Maine Senate seat while Republicans were actively engaged because both sides have assumed King would caucus with the Democrats. Nonetheless, King said he would speak with both parties before making a decision.

“I just want to see what their understanding is of what the caucus decision means how, how much independence I could continue to have,” King said, calling the whole process “a bit of uncharted territory.”

“It looks like some kind of alignment at least for the purposes of organizing the Senate will probably be necessary in order to get a committee assignment or a good committee assignment,” he said. King may see offers from Democrats and Republicans, but his leverage is somewhat decreased the larger the Democratic majority.

King also said he has spoken with Maine’s two GOP Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. He said he plans to meet with the retiring Snowe before going to D.C. next week. As for Collins, King said she’s now the senior Senator, and “I offered to get her coffee each morning, you know … as the junior Senator.”

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