Updated 10:55 a.m.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), one of two independent senators who caucuses with Democrats, on Wednesday openly floated the possibility of siding with Republicans next year if they take control of the Senate.
“I’ll make my decision at the time based on what I think is best for Maine,” King told The Hill on Wednesday. He was asked about a potential switch after voting with Republicans to block a Democratic-backed bill that would seek to ensure pay equity among men and women.
On Thursday, King's office issued a statement clarifying the senator's position: “Sen. King only told The Hill newspaper what he’s always said – that his guiding principle is, and always will be, to do what is right for Maine. He's a proven consensus builder and will continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle, regardless of who’s in charge. He believes the people of Maine sent him here to find solutions and that's all he's focused on.”
King is a former independent governor and ran for the Senate in 2012 as an independent. During his campaign and in the years since, King has maintained that his current work with the Democratic caucus does not bar him from one day possibly allying with Republicans.
“I don’t want to stand in the middle of the aisle and say I’m an independent and not have a committee assignment,” he said in a 2012 interview with The Washington Post. “That’s sort of self-defeating, and it wouldn’t be fair to Maine. If it’s necessary to join a caucus and get a committee assignment, I’ll do it.”
“What does ‘join a caucus’ mean?" he added in the interview. "Does it mean casting one vote to organize the Senate, and then you’re on your own? Or does it mean you have to truly join the caucus, go to the meetings and participate fully, or you lose your committee assignments? How the parties handle that with me is going to have a significant influence on my decision.”
Despite his talk, King might be a bit out of place in the current Senate Republican Conference. According to the 2013 National Journal vote ratings, King's voting record makes him more a more reliable Democratic vote than 11 Democratic senators, including Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Joe Manchin III (W. Va.).