If you’re not a Democrat or a Republican, the widely held belief goes, you have zero chance of winning an election. The two-party system that dominates this country has left third-party candidates out in the cold.
But there is one state where someone not affiliated with the two major parties has a good shot at winning a seat: Maine. (Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders caucuses with the Democrats.)
Angus King, an independent, is considered the favorite to win the seat being vacated by moderate Republican Olympia Snowe. Polls show the 68-year-old King, who is a former two-term governor of the state, with a substantial lead over Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill.
King says he is trying to run a different kind of campaign: “The fundamental concept of what I’m doing is that the country’s in trouble, that we have very serious issues and that we can’t get to the issues if Congress doesn’t work. And that more partisanship isn’t going to change that.”
His campaign rhetoric makes it clear that King is fiercely proud of his political independence. He doesn’t shy away from his mixed bag of policy positions and endorsements; he supported George W. Bush in 2000 but supported Obama in 2008 and 2012, he’s pro-abortion rights, he’s against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The entrance to his campaign headquarters displays photos of two very different modern presidents—Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.
King is a known commodity in Maine—he served the state for eight years as governor- from 1995-2003- and before that he made a name for himself in the state as the founder of Northeast Energy Management Inc., an energy company in south-central Maine, and as the host of a Maine Public Television program. But to those watching on the outside, King has proven himself to be a tough nut to crack politically speaking and his candidacy has left people scratching their heads on both sides of the aisle in a year where party control of the upper chamber is on the line.