September 23, 2012

The making of a man without a party

The former governor's view of the world was shaped long before be ran for public office, and will likely continue to inform his choices.

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 6)

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Angus King hosts a Maine Public Television program in 1981.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram file photo

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JAN. 18, 1995: Newly elected Gov. Angus King bids goodbye to his wife, Mary Herman, as he departs his Brunswick home bound for Augusta. Colby College government professor Sandy Maisel, a Democrat, says King stepped into the role at the right time. “There was a great deal of dissatisfaction with government and partisanship, and Angus then and now had a nonconfrontational nature that was appealing and what the state was looking for,” Maisel says.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram file photo

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of profiles of the U.S. Senate candidates.

"Angus came along at exactly the right time and was exactly the right person," says Colby College government professor Sandy Maisel, a Democrat who has donated to King's Senate campaign. "There was a great deal of dissatisfaction with government and partisanship, and Angus then and now had a nonconfrontational nature that was appealing and what the state was looking for."

"He calmed the waters -- which was not trivial -- but I don't think his second term held up to his first," he added.

"There were efforts to trim back spending in the first two years of his first term, but after that as far as I could see the Democrats who ran the Legislature passed their budgets," says Jon Reisman, a libertarian-minded economist at the University of Maine at Machias who worked in King's administration, but supports Charlie Summers. "He was never dishonest about the fact that he was for an activist government in some areas, particularly environmental policy. But there was this subtext in '93 and '94 that he was for less government, and I think he left that behind."

"King successfully and consistently pushed a positive message and an upbeat outlook that made Mainers feel good about being Mainers," says retired journalist Paul Carrier, who covered the State House for the Portland Press Herald for two decades. "King could be thin-skinned and controlling behind the scenes, but the public didn't see that side of him, so it didn't figure into voters' attitudes."

Immediately after his second term, King, Mary, and their young children Ben and Molly departed on a six-month cross-country road trip in their RV, a journey King wrote about in "Governor's Travels." They then returned to Brunswick, where he and Mary still live.

In the nine years since, King has taught at Bowdoin and Colby colleges and remained involved in both business and nonprofits. He has served or serves on the boards of the Nature Conservancy of Maine, Maine Policy Scholars, the Maine International Center for Digital Learning, Hancock Lumber, the parent company of Lee Auto Malls, Goold Health Systems, and the engineering firm Woodard & Curran. He became a director of the struggling Bank of Maine in 2010, after its unhealthy loan portfolio had drawn the ire of federal regulators. (He resigned to run for Senate.)

From 2004 to 2010, he was also on the board of W.P. Stewart, a Bermuda-based international investment fund whose namesake founder met King at a ceremony at East Boothbay's Hodgdon Boat Yard, where Stewart's 154-foot yacht was built. The firm struggled after Stewart's retirement and the 2008 financial meltdown and was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange in 2009. King's financial disclosures show he still has tens of thousands in a company mutual fund.

He's been a partner in two business ventures. The first, Leaders LLC of Portland, helps companies sell themselves to larger competitors or vice versa, brokering a New Hampshire gas station's sale to Irving Oil and helping Hancock Lumber purchase Brunswick's Marriner Lumber.

The second, Independence Wind, aimed, in King's words, to do wind energy right. The company built a wind farm in Roxbury that has strong community support but is disliked by the sector's many critics. The firm received $100 million in loan guarantees from the same federal program that backed Solyndra, but unlike the failed solar firm, it is repaying its loans. King -- whom Republicans have criticized for relying on taxpayer subsidies -- has said he ultimately netted $212,000 from his six-year involvement with Independence.

"Wind development hadn't been being done in the right way and was triggering more opposition than it needed to," says Rob Gardiner, King's partner in the venture. "Angus and I decided we wouldn't have that problem because everything we said would be true and defensible." He says they did that at Roxbury, but they still faced opposition because of the earlier sins of others in the industry.

King divested himself from the wind firm when he decided to take on a new project: running for the U.S. Senate.

Staff Writer Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:

cwoodard@mainetoday.com

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Additional Photos

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CIRCA 1980: Early in his career, King settled in Topsham and was a lawyer in Brunswick.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram file photo

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NOV. 9, 1994: Accompanied by his wife, Mary Herman, left, and their son Benjamin, then 4, Angus King holds up a copy of the Portland Press Herald on the day after he was elected governor.

Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram file photo

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JAN. 13, 1997: Gov. Angus King visits Mount View High School in Thorndike to demonstrate a network to electronically connect all Maine schools and libraries to each other and the Internet. King embraced technology in education, and while in office, he initiated the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, an effort to provide laptops for every public middle-school student in the state. The program was the first of its kind in the nation.

The Associated Press file photo by Robert F. Bukaty

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Born in 1944, King grew up in this brick two-story home in a leafy neighborhood on the slope of Seminary Hill on the outskirts of Alexandria, Va.

Colin Woodard photo

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Angus “Gus” King attended Hammond High School in Alexandria, Va., one of the first in the state to integrate.

Courtesy photo

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King, who was class president in both his junior and senior years, with an unidentified high school classmate.

Courtesy photo

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King's junior yearbook photo

Courtesy photo

  


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