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Independent Angus King bests partisans in Maine Senate race

November 06, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Voters in Maine elected independent Angus King to the Senate.
Voters in Maine elected independent Angus King to the Senate. (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- Independent candidate Angus King was elected in the U.S. Senate race, as Mainers favored the popular former governor over the Democratic and Republican candidates.

With both parties vying for control of the Senate, King could hold the balance of power when senators cast the all-important first votes of the session to establish the majority. King, who was projected to win by CNN and the Associated Press, has declined to say which party he would join, though many believe he will side with Democrats -- at least for that vote.

Though out of office for a decade, King emerged as the early favorite to replace retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe -- a moderate who cited the polarized atmosphere in Congress in calling it quits. King said Snowe’s reasons for stepping down motivated him to run to fix Washington by trying to instill a spirit of nonpartisan compromise.

Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers, a Navy reservist, and Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Dill, a liberal-leaning civil rights attorney, struggled to gain ground in the race. Still, the partisans engaged in a robust effort -- against each other, and King -- as outside money poured into Maine.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads GPS sought to chisel away at King’s lead. Democrats targeted Summers, the Republican, and top brass in Washington declined to back Dill, their party’s own candidate.

Independents who are unaligned with either party remain a rarity in the Senate. Two independents, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, both caucus with Democrats. Sanders was poised to win reelection while Lieberman is retiring.

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