Angus King, Joe Manchin won't join GOP in Senate

Angus King and Joe Manchin resisted Republican overtures to swap caucuses.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   Nov. 5, 2014 at 6:26 PM
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BRUNSWICK, Maine, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Independent Sen. Angus King gave Democrats a piece of good news Wednesday when he announced he will continue to caucus with their party in the new term.

Despite Republicans' takeover of the Senate majority, King said he believed his state is better served by having him continue to caucus with the Democrats, especially as his colleague, Sen. Susan Collins, is a Republican.

"I think it is in Maine's interest to have senators in each camp," King told reporters outside his home in Brunswick Wednesday. "The reality of the Senate... is that nothing can or will happen without bipartisan support."

King's fellow independent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is very liberal and was never considered a threat to switch party caucuses. But King had suggested he might switch sides if Republicans took the majority in the midterms to do whatever was "best for Maine."

Republicans also targeted conservative West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin as a potential caucus switcher. On Wednesday, Manchin told Politico he had no intention of abandoning his party -- or his political independence.

"I've said this: I'm a West Virginia Democrat. It's a lot different than being a Washington Democrat," he said. "I am fiscally responsible and conservative, if you will, and socially compassionate. I haven't voted party lines, nor will I." Manchin said he hasn't ruled out a switch of a different kind: back to his old job as West Virginia governor. He said he will decide whether to run next year, and that his decision will hinge on how well the Senate operates under Republican rule.

"I'm keeping every option open, I'll wait until next year, see how things shape out," he said. "If it looks like it's going to be same old same old [partisan gridlock], it's not going to be a place I'm going to want to spend a great deal of time."

While Republicans made significant gains Tuesday night, the final number of seats remains in flux. Republicans will begin the 114th Congress with at least 52 Senators, compared to Democrats' 43, plus King and Sanders.

Democrats Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich's Louisiana and Alaska seats are still in doubt, while Mark Warner appears to have retained his seat in Virginia.

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