Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine put a quick end to speculation that he might join the new Republican majority, saying it was in his state's interests for him to continue to caucus with Democrats.
"I think it's in Maine's interests to have a senator in each camp," he said at a news conference in Brunswick. The state's senior senator, Susan Collins, is a Republican. "The reality of the current Senate, whether it's controlled by Democrats or Republicans, is that nothing can or will happen without bipartisan support."
King had previously indicated he was unlikely to switch to the Republican caucus, but occasionally fed speculation that remaining with the Democrats was not a guarantee. He has also endorsed some Republican senators in their bid for reelection, including Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a close ally of incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Greater-than-expected gains by Republicans in Tuesday's elections could have adjusted his thinking. But King said his "independence has always been respected" by Democrats, and he saw no reason to change.
King also said it was to Maine's advantage that he aligns with the party that controls the White House, putting him in a better position to advocate for the state's needs to the administration. Republicans, he said, have been "openly hostile" to President Obama.
King, elected in 2012, said his decision does not mean he is becoming a Democrat, but that he would seek to continue to play a role for the party similar to what Collins, a moderate Republican, aims to do in her party: move it toward the center.