March 6, 2012

Angus King joins race for Senate

By Jonathan Riskind
Washington Bureau Chief

Vowing that "nobody will be able to tell me how to vote but the people of Maine," former Gov. Angus King Jr. announced Monday night that he will run for the U.S. Senate.

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Angus King kisses his wife, Mary, at Bowdoin College on Monday night. He said that he is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer:

click image to enlarge

Angus King greets supporters at Bowdoin College on Monday night after announcing that he will run for the Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer:

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After giving a previously scheduled lecture at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, his hometown, King made the much-anticipated announcement that he will be a candidate for the Senate seat to be vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe.

He said that Snowe's retirement after three terms proves that the two-party system in Washington is broken and electing an independent makes sense.

"Frankly, I think I might scare (the parties), and that would be a good thing," he told about 200 people in the college's Moulton Union. He also promised no negative ads in a campaign that will be hard-fought.

King's candidacy has some Democrats worried that the socially liberal, former two-term governor could take enough votes from the Democratic nominee to throw the election to the GOP.

The race has national significance because a Democratic win in Maine, considered unlikely before Snowe announced last week that she won't seek a fourth term, could determine whether Democrats keep their majority in the Senate.

King's decision had been awaited since soon after Snowe's surprise announcement last Tuesday.

Eliot Cutler, the independent gubernatorial candidate from 2010, considered a run for Senate but backed away Monday and endorsed King, saying in a prepared statement that he "would bring to the Senate the independence, the abilities, the reputation and the disposition that will make him a great senator."

Multi-candidate primaries remain possible for both parties. It remained unclear Monday who all of those candidates will be.

An aide to Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said she is still conidering a run. Pingree's aide didn't say how King's entry into the race affects her thinking.

A longtime Maine Democratic consultant, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that if Pingree doesn't run, a major factor will be her concern that she and King could divide the Democratic liberal base and pave the way for a GOP victory.

A Maine Democratic insider who is close to both Pingree and King noted before King's announcement that the two are close friends. King celebrated Thanksgiving at Pingree's house in North Haven last fall, at a dinner attended by about 15 to 20 people.

King said in a phone interview Monday that he and Pingree's friendship dates back three decades, but that "can't necessarily decide what you are going to do. ... Ultimately, you have to do what is right for the country."

Pingree's husband, S. Donald Sussman, a frequent Democratic donor, is buying a 5 percent equity stake in MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other Maine media outlets.

Former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci also is considering the Senate race. His thinking won't be affected by King's decision or whether Pingree runs, said his spokesman Dan Cashman.

He said Baldacci will "make the decision based on what he feels is the right thing to do."

GOP lines up

On the Republican side, a number of potential candidates have taken out papers to circulate nomination petitions.

Maine Attorney General William Schneider said over the weekend that he has decided to seek his party's nomination.

Other Republicans who are considering a Senate run are Maine Secretary of State Charles Summers, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and former Senate President Rick Bennett.

Also running is Scott D'Amboise, a tea party-affiliated candidate from Lisbon Falls who was challenging Snowe in the GOP primary.

Mark Brewer, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine, said King could win as an independent in a three-way race, as he did in Maine's gubernatorial elections in 1994 and 1998.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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After a lecture at Bowdoin College Monday night on the Cuban Missile Crisis, Angus King announces that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe.

Staff photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer:


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