U.S. Sen. Angus King said Wednesday afternoon he will continue to caucus with Senate Democrats, as the former Maine governor has done since being elected to the upper chamber in 2012. Maine’s independent senator repeated, however, that his decision to remain in the Democratic caucus does not mean he has joined the Democratic Party.
“It does not mean that I have given up my right to make independent decisions on bills, amendments or presidential policies, just as I have over the last two years; and it does not mean that I have made a promise to support the Democratic position on any particular issue which may come before the Senate,” King said during a news conference in Brunswick, Maine.
King said his decision was primarily based on Maine’s interest to have a senator in each party in order to continue working in both camps on behalf of the small state. Maine’s senior senator, Susan Collins, was re-elected on Tuesday and is a Republican. “Being able to work with both sides is a real advantage, again, remembering that it will take votes from both caucuses to get anything done; that’s just the math,” King said.
King also said there is an advantage to having one of Maine’s senators in the same party as President Barack Obama. “To change my alignment to a caucus which currently appears openly hostile to the president would give up the important advantage my engagement in the Democratic caucus carries with it,” he said.
King gratefully noted that Senate Democrats have always respected his independence over the past two years and gave him committee assignments important to Maine. “I was not pressured to vote the party line and I was listened to and actively consulted as caucus positions were developed,” he said.
The Democratic Party lost control of the Senate after landslide victories for Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The last time Republicans held a majority in the Senate was in 2006.