March 18, 2012

Senate's 'I's: King will have to choose

Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Bernie Sanders say, if elected, the Maine independent would confront some limitations.

By Jonathan Riskind
Washington Bureau Chief

(Continued from page 1)

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Angus King

Bernie Sanders
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Bernie Sanders

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King said he understands the joys of being an independent and the reason why, practically, he still may have to take a side.

While his goal is to maintain independence as a way of trying to break the gridlock in Washington, he wants to be the most powerful voice for Maine possible, he said.

So while his preference is not to join either caucus, "that may not be possible," King said.

Analysts have speculated that the socially liberal and fiscally conservative King is more likely to join the Democrats' caucus if he wins in November. While King supported George W. Bush in 2000, he endorsed Democrat John Kerry in 2004 and has backed Barack Obama in 2008 and this year.

John Baughman, a Bates College associate professor of politics, said King will find himself forced to caucus for practical reasons if he defeats the Democratic and Republican nominees and wins the Senate seat -- and predicted he is likely to caucus with the Democrats.

Baughman said it is "harder for an independent centrist to justify caucusing with the GOP."

As the center in American politics has evaporated over the past quarter-century, Senate Republicans have moved to the right at about twice the rate that Senate Democrats have moved to the left, Baughman said.

"Unlike a governor, who can remain outside partisan politics to a great degree, a senator does not have that luxury," Baughman said. "(King) will figure out how closely to ally himself with a caucus, but there's no question he'll have to."

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:



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Joseph Lieberman
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Joseph Lieberman


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