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Hullabaloo


Friday, April 11, 2014

 
Angus King provides a great example of why we need strong state and local Democratic organizations

by David Atkins

Many "good government" advocates like to fantasize about what America would be like if political parties were weaker, and there were more unaffiliated citizen legislators out there willing to cross the aisle more often. Regardless of whether that's a good idea from a policy standpoint (it isn't), it also doesn't work that way from a practical standpoint.

What you get instead are unprincipled opportunists like Angus King:

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats, will decide after the midterm elections whether to switch sides and join the Republicans.

He is leaving open the possibility of aligning himself with the GOP if control of the upper chamber changes hands.

“I’ll make my decision at the time based on what I think is best for Maine,” King told The Hill Wednesday after voting with Republicans to block the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure at the center for the 2014 Democratic campaign agenda.
King’s remarks are a clear indication that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle will have to woo the 70-year-old senator in order to recruit him to their side.

That lobbying battle could be especially intense if King’s decision determines which party will control the chamber in the next Congress.

If Republicans pick up six seats this fall, they will be running the Senate in 2015. But a pickup of five would produce a 50-50 split and Democratic control, with Vice President Biden breaking the tie. King could tip the balance.

The former governor of Maine is an independent, but he has generally been a reliable Democratic vote for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

King said after the 2012 elections that being in the majority was important to him, when he announced his decision to caucus with Senate Democrats, giving them control of 55 seats.

“The outcome of last week’s election in some ways makes this decision relatively easy. In the situation where one party has a clear majority and effectiveness is an important criteria, affiliating with the majority makes the most sense,” King said at the time.
Angus King will likely caucus with whoever has the majority. If he's the deciding vote on that front, he'll caucus with whoever gives him the most goodies.

Unprincipled politicians like Angus King are unequivocally bad for America, no matter whether your politics are liberal, conservative or somewhere in between.

Functionally speaking, however, the state and local Democratic Party organizations in Maine should never have allowed Angus King to rise to such a position of prominence in the first place.

Hopefully his example will lead other sate and local parties to do more to nip candidates like this in the bud and challenge them wherever possible.


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