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Senator Angus King has described himself as a “bridge between the two parties.” In other words, he’s a centrist. King, an independent, has historically caucused with the Democrats; all the while, he insists that he isn’t one of them. Since his election to the chamber in 2012, this strategy seems to be working for him.
King, whose father was a lawyer, attended Dartmouth College and eventually earned his own law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. When he was 29 years old, King was abruptly diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. Health insurance access, King says, saved his life in his battle with cancer. He recovered and moved to Maine, working for alternative energy companies and eventually founding his own. In 1993, King entered Maine’s political arena in a big way— he decided to run for governor. And he would do so as an independent. King’s platform emphasized his non-partisanship, a quality that rules the day in Maine’s political landscape. The state is one of two that split their electoral college votes in presidential elections, and its largest voting bloc identifies as neither Democratic nor Republican. King’s foray into politics played up his status as a political outsider, a reasonable businessman unaffected by partisan biases. King’s centrist strategy proved successful. For the duration of his tenure as governor, he was the only independent in the nation to occupy the position. Years later, in 2012, King’s moderate political image earned him a seat in the United States Senate. When he announced his decision to caucus with the Democratic Party, no one was all that surprised. Still, King maintained that “by associating myself with one side, I am not in automatic opposition to the other.”
During his time in the Senate, King has remained comfortably in the chamber’s ideological center. His friendships reach across the aisle — famously, King referred to past Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a “good friend” despite his ongoing disagreements with the Trump administration. According to FiveThirtyEight.com, King only voted with Trump 37 percent of the time; in comparison, his vote has been in line with Biden 98 percent of the time. King stands with party Democrats on some important core issues: he is outspoken in his support of healthcare access, LGBTQ+ rights, and gun safety legislation. Often, however, his views manifest in confusing ways. Despite being a longtime advocate for environmental conservation and clean energy, King joined Republicans in voting against the Green New Deal in 2019, calling its language “unrealistic and far too broad.” And, although King has positioned himself as an agent of bipartisan collaboration, left-leaning democrats question the usefulness of his commitment to moderatism. King supports reforming the filibuster (prolonged debate used to delay and obstruct the passage of legislation) in order to expedite the codifying of voting rights. Yet, he was unsuccessful in his attempts to convince pro-filibuster politicians (Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, for instance) into adopting his stance.
King’s positions are not always predictable and his dedicated centrism is achieving little in the heightened political polarization of today. Yet King remains a frank critic of the Trumpist disavowal of free and fair elections — a sentiment that is seeping into the Republican Party’s open mistrust of American democracy. “If we continue in this downward spiral of loss of trust in our system, it’s going to be very hard to restore,” he said.
Iman Husain is an artist, freelance writer, and staff writer for WeeklySenator. She was born in a small town in Alabama and raised in Tempe, Arizona. She now resides in Providence, Rhode Island, where she studies visual arts and American Studies at Brown University.
“The future of healthcare reform in the U.S. must focus on improved access to services and a reduction of costs. The soaring costs of healthcare in this country are not only a heavy burden on American families; they are also the primary drivers of our federal debt and deficit.” After winning his battle with cancer as a young man, King has been a vocal advocate for expanding healthcare access for all Americans. He claims that without health insurance, he would have lost his life. King is outspoken in his support of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid, and cites these programs as essential to providing expansive healthcare coverage. He maintains that healthcare is still “far too expensive for far too many people,” and supports healthcare reform that would decrease costs and expand access. For King, supporting abortion access is a fundamental part of the fight to improve and expand healthcare access.
Environmental Protections and Clean Energy
“I believe that our national energy policy must promote the responsible use of domestic resources in a way that promises their continued existence.” Before entering politics, King worked for an energy conservation company, even launching his own firm. After serving two terms as Maine’s governor, he started a green energy company focused on harnessing wind energy as a secondary, sustainable energy source. In the Senate, King supports investing more federal funds in domestic, alternative energy forms like solar, wind, and hydropower. Diversifying our energy portfolio, King maintains, is essential to creating a “resilient and reliable” energy economy. Notably, in 2019, King joined Republicans and three Democrats in voting against the Green New Deal. In his explanation for his vote, King called the provisions in the bill “unrealistic and too broad.”
“I’m so sick of how common these incidents are, and I know I’m not alone — we need to take action to fight this epidemic of gun violence.” King is a long-standing supporter of universal background checks as an essential commonsense gun safety measure. He has also expressed support of red-flag laws, “which would prohibit someone who is a significant threat to themselves or others from processing firearms,” and restrictions on military-style assault rifles. In 2022, King backed the passage of the Bipartisan Gun Safety Law, which ended a decades-long impasse on the matter. Though King acknowledged the bill’s shortcomings, he celebrated the bill’s support of red flag laws, increased penalties for illegal gun sales, furthered protections for victims of domestic violence, and formation of mental health-focused resources.
Council for a Liveable World
League of Conservation Voters
Human Rights Campaign Political Action Committee
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Maine Education Association
End Citizens United