Sen.-elect Angus King of Maine announced that he will caucus with Senate Democrats, an expected decision that gives Democrats a 55-45 advantage in Senate seats.
"I have decided to affiliate myself with the Democratic Caucus," King said at a news conference, saying he determined the party would grant him independence while its position in the majority would make him a more effective advocate for Maine.
King is an independent who generally supports President Obama. He said during his campaign that he was open to caucusing with either party, but attacks on King by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which King said included lies, and ads run on his behalf by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which declined to endorse the Democratic nominee in the race, may have factored in King's decision. Democrats continued control of the Senate also makes their side more attractive.
King is seeking an coveted seat on the Senate Finance Committee, but that is probably a long-shot. King would have had more leverage to negotiate for committee assignments if the election left a near even Senate split that made his decision vital. Democrats do not desperately need King. His decision to organize with them does not bind his future votes, but it affects committee ratios. King needed to join a Caucus to vote in Democratic leadership elections this morning.