Sunday, March 9, 2014
USA Today is the latest in a parade of national media to come all the way up to Maine to ask Angus King the question: Who will you caucus with if you get elected to the U.S. Senate?
It also is the latest to go away with the same non-answer: "I don't answer that question because I don't know," King told USA TODAY.
The caucus question has consumed national observers of the Maine race.
That’s partly because King’s decision could determine which party controls the Senate’s leadership, committee assignments and agenda.
It also is because it’s hard to imagine – outside of Maine, anyway – that voters could support a candidate without knowing which party he will side with.
Up here, of course, it doesn’t seem so strange given that King has already been a governor without a party. Independents make up the state's biggest block of voters.
Being the one senator out of 100 without a party is very different from being the one and only governor, of course, which is why King’s answer isn’t likely to change no matter how many times he’s asked. The possibility he could hand one party leadership of the Senate after the election would be a huge bargaining chip for a freshman senator, especially one with no party backing him up.
A WBUR poll released yesterday suggested that King’s non-answer to the caucus question is not a problem for Maine voters, at least not yet. Half of those surveyed said they support the former governor, more than twice the support for either of the candidates with party credentials.
From USA TODAY: "King's decision has become a fixation in Washington. 'There is a 50-50 proposition,' said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst for The Cook Political Report. The consequence of King's decision has been a non-issue in Maine. 'There doesn't seem to be a lot of partisan loyalty (in Maine),' Duffy said. 'This whole notion of somebody not declaring a party and people not caring, apparently isn't that crazy.'"
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