Angus King, the independent senator-elect from Maine, announced Wednesday that he will caucus with Democrats when he takes office in January. King, a former two-term governor, campaigned on the promise of bringing a common sense, centrist approach to Washington as he replaces outgoing moderate, Republican Olympia Snowe.
"By associating myself with one side, I am not in automatic opposition to the other," he said in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. He said discussions with other Senate independents have convinced him that he can maintain his independence despite announcing his allegiance.
King refused to declare which party he would align himself with throughout his campaign, but he sides with Democrats on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and supporting President Barack Obama. Republican groups also spent money trying to defeat King.
He came to D.C. over the weekend, as many newly elected members did, and met with both Snowe and her Maine colleague, Republican Sen. Susan Collins. King defeated Collins in Maine's 1994 gubernatorial race, but the two are amicable and have pledged to work together for Maine's best interests.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met with King, reportedly asked for a seat on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, a panel Snowe sat on, but an assignment generally given to more senior senators because of the tax and spending power it wields. Reid said he's confident King will serve as a bridge to Republicans.
Democrats now have a 55-45 majority in the Senate over Republicans.
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Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.