PORTLAND — Independent Sen.-elect Angus King on Friday tapped people from both political parties to round out his inner circle, choosing a veteran from President Barack Obama’s campaign, a former communications chief for Democratic Gov. John Baldacci and a Republican consultant to join his chief of staff, Kay Rand.
Toby McGrath, who worked on both of Obama’s campaigns in Maine, will serve as deputy chief of staff; Crystal Canney, a former TV reporter and aide to Baldacci, will serve as communications director; and Edie Smith, a political consultant with GOP ties, will be state director.
King previously disclosed that Rand will serve as his chief of staff, as she did during his two terms as governor. She’s also served as his campaign manager.
Other key appointments announced Friday include former Democratic state lawmaker Marge Kilkelly as King’s senior policy adviser, Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office manager Pat Doak as administrative director, and Teague Morris as constituent director.
“This is the first round of hires and represents a diverse group of people from across the political spectrum,” King said in a statement.
The diversity of King’s staff plays into his campaign theme of bipartisanship, said Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine. “It plays in perfectly to the image he’s created over the years,” he said.
King, who’ll be sworn into office on Jan. 3, has said he wants to serve as a bridge between the parties to bring them together. He was elected to replace Snowe, a prominent centrist who complained about Washington’s partisan gridlock when announcing her retirement in late February.
King has chosen to caucus with Democrats. With King joining them, Democrats will have a 55 to 45 edge in the Senate.
As for the new appointments, King said some of them will work from Maine, some from Washington and some will split their time between Maine and the U.S. Capitol. He said he’s actively filling other positions as well.
King said office leases currently held by Snowe across the state will be extended for three months as he decides locations for his own state offices.