Monday November 05, 2012 | 09:40 AM

With independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King well ahead in the final pre-election polls, the bigger question now may not be whether he will win but what role he would play in the Senate.

If the Senate is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats – and King wins as expected – the former governor could be a king-maker by deciding who serves as Senate majority leader and which party gets to assign chairmen and women of the committees. On the other hand, if either party wins a clear majority with a comfortable margin of votes, his influence will be much less.

The possibilities are laid out in a Associated Press item today that quotes former senate majority leaders Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

A month or two ago, King was getting a lot of national attention as a possible swing vote. Less so in recent weeks as Democratic candidates in several key states opened up leads in the polls (thanks in part to a couple of controversial comments about abortion by Republicans in Missouri and Indiana).

“It looks like the Democrats may hold the control of the Senate — I’m not ready to concede that, but they may — in which case there ain’t going to be no negotiating,” former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., told the Post. “He’ll go to the Democratic side and take what they give him.”

King, if he does win, won't be irrelevant in any case. Neither party will have a filibuster-proof super-majority. And there are just 100 votes in the entire Senate, giving Maine's Senators the same voting power as New York's and California's.




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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or
On Twitter: @stevemistler

Eric Russell is covering Independent Eliot Cutler during the 2014 governor's race. He is a general assignment reporter for the Portland Press Herald.
Eric can be reached at 791-6344 or
On Twitter: @pphericrussell

Matt Byrne is covering Republican Paul LePage during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Falmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth and Freeport for the Portland Press Herald.
Matt can be reached at 791-6303 or
On Twitter: @mattbyrnePPH

Randy Billings is covering Democrat Mike Michaud during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Portland City Hall for the Portland Press Herald.
Randy can be reached at 791-6346 or
On Twitter: @randybillings

Kevin Miller is covering Maine's U.S. Senate race and 1st Congressional District race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or
On Twitter: @kevinmillerdc

Michael Shepherd is covering Maine's 2nd Congressional District race. He is a news and State House reporter for the Kennebec Journal.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or
On Twitter: @mikeshepherdME

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