November 6, 2012

King wins Maine's pivotal U.S. Senate seat

The 68-year-old, Harley Davidson-riding, politically independent former two-term governor weathered a storm of negative television ads from out-of-state groups trying to elect a Republican majority to the Senate.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Former Gov. Angus King will be Maine’s next U.S. Senator, winning one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country, according to the Associated Press.

click image to enlarge

Angus King waves to supporters as he takes the stage in Freeport on Tuesday night after being declared the winner for the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Angus King supporters cheer in Freeport on Tuesday night upon seeing CNN call Angus King the winner of the U.S. Senate race in Maine.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

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The independent who hopes to shake up partisan gridlock spoke to supporters in Freeport just before 9 p.m.

"Tonight the people of Maine have said, 'Enough. This far and no farther. We respect political differences, but we want to move a little closer to the center, to solutions ... to mutual respect.' That's the message of today's election," King said. "Today, we got a little closer."

The 68-year-old, Harley Davidson-riding, politically independent former two-term governor weathered a storm of negative television ads from out-of-state groups trying to elect a Republican majority to the Senate.

The race topped $10 million in total spending, including roughly $4 million from outside groups attacking King and about $3 million spent by groups – including national Democrats – that came to his defense.

Republican nominee Charlie Summers has arrived at the Regency Hotel in Portland to applause from his supporters. But Summers has not yet conceded.

Summers told a crowd of about 30 people at the Portland Regency that he is not ready to give up the race until more votes are counted.

"We will monitor things as they go along and come back in a little while," he said. The crowd applauded.

Democratic nominee Cynthia Dill is watching returns at her home and plans to speak later to supporters at Bayside Bowl in Portland.

King will replace Republican Olympia Snowe, who held the seat for 18 years and was one of the Senate’s most moderate members.

Snowe was considered a shoo-in for re-election until she shocked the political world with her announcement in February that she would retire because of the polarized, hyper-partisan atmosphere in the Senate.

King has been the frontrunner since just days after Snowe’s announcement, when he said he was running to break through the gridlock that drove Snowe to retire and stalled Congressional action on the debt and the economy.

While Summers was not conceding, Snowe called King to congratulate him.

“I have known Angus for many years and worked closely with him on issues critical to Maine during his two terms as Governor," Snowe said in a written statement on the results. "I know he cares deeply about Maine people and the future of our nation, and I called him this evening to congratulate him on his victory.  We had a very good conversation -- I offered anything I could do to assist him with a smooth transition, and we will be meeting toward that end in the near future.” 

Maine's soon-to-be senior senator, Republican Susan Collins, also issued a written statement congratulating King.
"I'm sure that Angus and I will be meeting soon to discuss committee assignments and how we can work together to meet the challenges facing our state and our nation," Collins said.

King, a Brunswick resident, served as Maine’s independent governor from 1995 to 2003 and afterward founded a wind energy business, lectured at Bowdoin and served on the boards of several businesses.

He will be one of two independents in the Senate along with Bernie Sanders of Vermont. But, while Sanders is one of the Senate's most liberal voices, King is a political moderate and said he intends to build a centrist coalition to try to break through the partisan gridlock that has stalled action on the federal debt and job-creation bills.

King has refused to say which party he would side with if the Senate ends up evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, although both parties clearly expect him to caucus with the Democrats.

(Continued on page 2)

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