It’s pretty obvious Democrats in Maine – and around the country – had an awful night. But there’s someone else who is in a less advantageous position thanks to the election results: Angus King.
King, the independent who currently caucuses with majority Democrats in the Senate, has dangled the possibility he would switch to joining up with Republicans if it would help Maine. But with Republicans crushing Democrats across the country, their new majority is so broad they may have no need of King, who undoubtedly would vote his own way no matter who he caucuses with.
Woo him with a chairmanship? Unlikely, now, for the decidedly left-leaning first-term senator.
The best King can hope for is that his time in office so far has proven him an honest broker, willing to listen to all and treat his colleagues with respect (as well as lecture them on historical leadership). He could rally a centrist coalition, with the likes of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Maine’s own Sen. Susan Collins, and perhaps some of the new class – Republicans Cory Gardner of Colorado and Joni Ernst of Iowa.
The true strength of King’s hypothetical coalition would rest in whether or not President Barack Obama makes an effort to work with Republicans – who now comfortably lead the House and Senate – during his final two years. Obama made shed light on that prospect during his Wednesday afternoon press conference reflecting on the election results.
King also lost on the homefront, though, twice over. He went all in for independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, then scampered over to Democrat Mike Michaud’s camp.
In 2010, some pundits credited King’s late-in-the-game endorsement of Cutler with helping propel him close to defeating Republican Paul LePage. In reality, it was simply a cratering Democratic candidate in Libby Mitchell. This time around, King’s endorsement was proven empty both for Cutler, and then for Michaud, who couldn’t close the deal against a bullet-proof LePage, who sailed to re-election.
One thing is for sure, however. It’s likely Mainers will see a lot of King’s face on cable news in the lead-up to 2016. The always willing and well-spoken King is catnip for TV bookers and hosts alike.