It's good to be King. Angus King that is. Or at least, that's been the general consensus in Maine's Senate race. King, 68, is a two-term Independent governor of the Pine Tree State, and he's currently the frontrunner in the state's senate race to fill the seat left open by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's impending retirement.
In today's increasingly polarized Congress, King is a unique candidate. So far he has pulled off an impressive feat in his campaign; he's managed to maintain his status as a frontrunner without pledging himself to either party. The former governor has not said who he will caucus with if elected to the Senate. Instead, he has made his campaign message a call for moderation and bipartisanship.
"The fundamental concept of what I'm doing is that the country's in trouble, that we have very serious issues and that we can't get to the issues if Congress doesn't work," King said. "And that more partisanship isn't going to change that."
His campaign rhetoric makes it clear that King is fiercely proud of his political independence. He doesn't shy away from his mixed bag of policy positions and endorsements; he supported George W. Bush in 2000 but supported Obama in 2008 and 2012, he's pro-abortion rights, he's against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The entrance to his campaign headquarters displays photos of two very different modern presidents--Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.
King is a known commodity in Maine - he served the state for eight years as governor- from 1995-2003- and before that he made a name for himself in the state as the founder of Northeast Energy Management Inc., an energy company in south-central Maine, and as the host of a Maine Public Television program. But to those watching on the outside, King has proven himself to be a tough nut to crack politically speaking and his candidacy has left people scratching their heads on both sides of the aisle in a year where party control of the upper chamber is on the line.
"What I have found in this campaign is - it's kind of amusing - that both sides cherry pick my record to make me look like the other side," King told ABC News. "There are some Democrats who are arguing that I'm really a Republican in disguise because I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and vetoed a minimum wage increase. The Republicans assume that because I'm for Obama and the Affordable Care Act, I'm a Democrat.
"It seems to be all about gaining control of the Senate," he added. "It doesn't have to do with Maine or with particular issues."
King's big foe has been the Republican Party, however. While Maine Democrats have thrown their support behind their party's nominee, state Senator Cynthia Dill, national Democrats have not officially backed any candidate, fueling the theory that King will ultimately act as a Democrat if elected to the Senate. In late September, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made an ad buy in the state that attacked the Republican nominee, Secretary of State Charlie Summers, but didn't mention King or Dill.
Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has invested about $1 million in the race attacking King and supporting Summers, according to FEC financial reports. The Republican-leaning outside group the Chamber of Commerce has released three ads attacking King, focusing heavily on his record as governor, calling him a "king of spending."