Thursday, December 5, 2013
Could former Gov. Angus King use the U.S. Constitution – and his iPhone – to shake up the U.S. Senate?
The independent Senate candidate spoke to Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball Thursday evening and said he’s not convinced that, if elected, he would need to side with either party. King said the Constitution, which he carries around on his iPhone, doesn’t say anything about having to caucus with the Democrats or Republicans in order to sit on a committee or serve as a full member of Congress. Senators are customarily assigned to committees by the leaders of each party, and independent members choose a favorite party to caucus with in return for getting committee assignments.
Matthews asked King whether he would stay a true independent even if means giving up any committee assignments. “Why don’t you hold onto that independence?” Matthews asked.
“That is one of the options that I’m considering," King said. "But on the other hand, Chris, I don’t want to go down to just stand on principle and be a potted plant."
King also said he’s not convinced the parties could deny him a committee seat because the Constitution doesn’t say he has to choose sides. It's another example of what's wrong in Washington, he said.
“Congress is absolutely not working and until you make the institution work that the framers gave us to solve our problems, you’re never going to get to the solutions to the problems,” King said.
Republicans say King is simply a Democrat masquerading as an independent. One of his potential GOP opponents criticized King Friday for not understanding the Senate’s rules.
"Without committee assignments, Angus King would be half a United States Senator," Attorney General Bill Schneider said in a written statement. “The roads, bridges and destroyers that get built in Maine originate in Senate committees…. Angus King is apparently willing to sacrifice Maine's national interests to advance his campaign's misleading message of independence.”
Schneider said it is the Senate’s rules, not the Constitution, that spells out how committee assignments are made. "Angus King's lack of understanding of Senate rules could put Maine at a big disadvantage."Tweet
Open Season targets all of Maine's political wildlife, from Portland city government to the donkeys, elephants and independents stalking the Statehouse and U.S. Capitol.
John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
John can be reached at 791-6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or email@example.com
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or email@example.com