“There is a lot of anxiety here that [Democratic and independent voters] could again split the vote between a Democratic candidate and [Mr. King], resulting in a possibly a minority candidate winning the seat.”
Mrs. Snowe’s decision to retire deals a blow to the Republican Party’s push to pick up the four seats its needs to take control of the Senate. But if the GOP primary produces a strong candidate, expect the national Republican Party to pour cash into the race.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee — the fundraising arm of Senate Republicans — has accused Mr. King of making a secret pact to caucus with Democrats if elected in exchange for the party agreeing not to run high-profile candidates in the race.
Mr. King called the accusation “complete bunk” and a “total fabrication.”
“That’s what [Republicans] have to do because they’d like to turn this into a race of Democrats vs. Republicans,” he said.
“They already have a little trouble against [Mr. King], but they’d have a lot of trouble if it looks like they’re running against an independent. But if they call him a Democrat and convince voters he’s a Democrat, it at least gives them an outside shot of holding the seat.”
Guessing his political leanings isn’t easy. As governor he was a fiscal conservative, but was more liberal on social and environmental issues. And while he is backing President Obama’s re-election bid, he endorsed Republican George W. Bush’s successful presidential campaign in 2000.
Mr. King has said he hasn’t decided which party he would caucus with should he win the seat, and even has suggested he wouldn’t side with either.
“He’ll hold out as long as he can before committing, but I don’t think there’s much question that in the end he’ll caucus with the Democrats,” Mr. Baughman said. “He has to choose somebody. He can’t get a good committee assignment, for example, without decision on which party you’re going to caucus with.”
Mr. Brewer speculated that Mr. King could wait to see which party has control of the Senate after the November elections before picking his team. But he agreed that remaining outside of a partisan caucus isn’t realistic.
“He can’t be a caucus of one. He’s got to caucus with somebody,” he said.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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