It is time to learn something about this writer. My first election was in 1994, a mid-term election. I graduated high school that year. I chose, for my spring semester before graduation, to take a government class. My teacher, Mrs. Carter, invited the candidates for governor to speak to us. She encouraged us to consider helping out with the campaigns, to learn the ins-and-outs of politics on the campaign trail. We had several candidates come visit. One of them struck me: a white-haired man sporting a walrus mustache, without political experience but with years in business and public advocacy: Angus King.
The next day I called his campaign office and signed up as a volunteer.
Over the summer and into the fall, me in my yellow station wagon made multiple trips around the state, dropping off signs, picking up people, taking materials from one office to another. I ran phone banks and went door to door. It was exciting and eye-opening look into the campaign process.
That fall I cast my vote, then drove the hour to Brunswick and the victory celebration. That night our candidate gave his victory speech, we all cheered and celebrated. It was a night to remember.
Now it is 16 years later, and the same white-haired man, still sporting that walrus mustache, has managed to become Maine’s newest senator. As when he ran for governor, Angus King has rejected the normal party politic, running as an Independent fortified by his time as governor, a time when Maine grew. Its educational system became a model for the nation, it became a manufacturing powerhouse, expanding from traditions such as paper and ships to semi-conductors and jet engines; our roads became some of the best maintained in the northeast and our government became more accessible and responsible.
Now he has been chosen in a three-way race, having garnered 53% of the vote. It is not clear which caucus he will poll with, but if history is any guide, it will, instead, be which other members of the US Senate will caucus with him. He brings a different kind of voice to D.C. politics.
The U.S. Senate has had independent members for some time, the most notable being Vermont’s own Bernie Sanders. With the history of New England offering up independents for the Senate, perhaps it is a uniquely New England thing. Although I suspect Senator-elect King will be more a Sanders than a Joe Liebermann, based on his history.
So begins a new chapter in not only Maine politics, but in national politics. If history is any guide, Angus King will not be changed by Washington; Washington will be changed by Angus King.