Maine Senator-elect Angus King to pick party this week

Independent Senator-elect Angus King speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Freeport, Maine. King says he's heading to Washington this weekend and could decide as soon as next week, or after Thanksgiving, on which party he'll align himself with. The former two-term governor overcame challenges from Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers and Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Dill to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
Independent Senator-elect Angus King speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Freeport, Maine.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Angus King, the newly elected independent senator from Maine, could announce the party with which he intends to caucus as early as Wednesday, a spokesperson for King confirmed to CBS News.

King, a former Maine governor, is replacing moderate Republican Olympia Snowe in the chamber. Snowe announced her retirement earlier this year after 18 years in the Senate, in part due to frustrations with the hyper-partisan nature of Congress.

The expectation has largely been that King will caucus with Democrats, but a spokesperson for King told CBS News earlier this yearthat, if elected, he'd take "the best ideas, regardless of party, to find common sense solutions" in the Senate.

In remarks to reporters Monday, King said he hadn't yet decided with whom he'd caucus.

"I will be making a decision probably this week and announcing it in due course. I'll be talking to you probably in a few days," he said. "It is likely I will have to make a decision to join one of the caucuses in order to have committee assignments and to be an effective senator, but that is not the end of the discussion in terms of working with people from both sides. I don't consider that decision to be an end of relationships people on the other team. "

Regardless of his decision, King's party choice probably won't be hugely impactful on the Senate's day-to-day governing capabilities: Democrats have slightly increased their narrow majority over Republicans in the chamber thanks to the results of the recent election, but not enough so to create the kind of supermajority that would forestall filibusters. King's vote would not tip the scale on votes that fall strictly down party lines, but he could represent a critical swing vote in attempts to pass broader bipartisan efforts.