Angus King is toying with Democrats, Republicans

Here’s what we know: Angus King is not going to change his stripes. The 70-year-old Maine independent – former governor, now senator – is who he is: pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-Obamacare. He’s also for sensible spending, which you’d be hard-pressed for any politician to disagree with as a concept.

But just as he played both sides against the middle during his 2012 election, King told The Hill newspaper he would think about caucusing with Republicans following the midterm elections in 2014, where there’s a strong possibility the GOP could win control of the upper chamber.

“I’ll make my decision at the time based on what I think is best for Maine,” he said to The Hill.

Sure. Fine.

But as a matter of course, it’s not likely to matter to Maine one way or the other, just as it doesn’t matter to Maine now that he caucuses with Democrats. Really, it’s going to matter to just one person – Angus King. If he waffles about “loyalties” in a close enough power split (there’s a scenario where control of the Senate could come down to the side King chooses), he could end up with plum committee assignments, and certainly enough media attention to feed an ego of any size.

It would matter even less to Mainers if he caucuses with Republicans if they take the majority than it does now that he’s sided with majority Democrats, because the state’s other senator, Susan Collins, is a card-carrying member of the GOP with actual seniority.

Yes, serving on the Senate Finance Committee is better than serving on Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. But at the end of the day, given the latter stage of King’s career, he won’t be able to work his way up the food chain before it’s time to hang it up.

The best thing King can do for Maine will be to maintain top-notch constituent services and be an advocate for Maine causes from his pedestal as one of 100 U.S. senators. His votes won’t change, his principles won’t change, regardless of who he sides with.

Just as he broke with Democrats on yesterday’s so-called fair pay bill, he’d break with Republicans if he caucused with them on issues he disagrees on.

Talk of King being open to the possibility of ‘switching teams,’ so to speak, really just serves to stir up the national media and garner the spotlight.

Rebekah Metzler

About Rebekah Metzler

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer with U.S. News and World Report, who hails from the state of Maine where she covered state politics for the Lewiston Sun Journal and MaineToday Media. She spent much of 2012 covering the presidential campaign and particularly enjoyed her time on the road in states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Ohio and Ohio. Metzler earned her master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and is a Bowdoin College grad.