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Sen. Angus King officially launches bid for third term

Maine Sen. Angus King speaks with reporters at the State House on May 29, 2024, after dropping off his petition signatures to qualify for the general election ballot.
Kevin Miller
Maine Public
Maine Sen. Angus King speaks with reporters at the State House on May 29, 2024, after dropping off his petition signatures to qualify for the general election ballot.

Maine Sen. Angus King publicly kicked off his reelection campaign on Wednesday by filing the signatures necessary to qualify for the November ballot.

King won his first Senate race in 2012 following the retirement of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and was re-elected six years later with 54% of the vote in a three-person race. The independent joined three other candidates who have filed their petition signatures for the June 11 primary or the general election: Republican Demi Kouzounas of Saco, Democrat David Costello of Brunswick and independent Jason Cherry of Unity.

Speaking to reporters after filing his signatures in Augusta, King listed the state's workforce and housing shortages as two issues that he wants to continue working on at the federal level. He also wants Congress to take up a bipartisan border security and immigration reform bill that faltered earlier this year after Republican support for the bill collapsed amid pressure from former President Donald Trump.

But King said polarization in Washington is getting worse, which is why he argued that moderates and deal-makers are so critical in the closely divided Senate.

"We need the middle, we need people in the Senate who work together and are willing to work together," King said. "We've lost a lot of those people in the last few years, and that worries me. We are losing three this year: Joe Manchin, Kristen Sinema and Mitt Romney. So I feel like I have a role to play and that's why I am going back — or why I am asking the people of Maine to send me back."

King served two terms as governor in the late1990s and early-2000s before stepping away from politics to work in the renewable energy sector and other businesses. He re-entered Maine's political spotlight in 2012 after Snowe surprised many by announcing her plans to retire from the Senate.

He serves alongside Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins on the high-profile Senate Intelligence Committee, which alongside its House counterpart receives regular briefings from leaders of the nation's intelligence agencies. King also serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee.

King has traditionally enjoyed strong approval ratings and enters the 2024 race as the clear favorite due, in no small part, to the advantages of incumbency and name recognition. An April 2024 poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that 47% of respondents believed King should be reelected while 36% opposed him and 16% were unsure. King enjoyed strong support among Democratic respondents in the survey, was largely opposed by Republicans and evenly split unenrolled or independent respondents.

Republicans quickly attacked King, calling him "useless" and pointing out that, at age 80, he would be Maine's eldest-ever U.S. senator.

Kouzounas, a dentist who led the Maine GOP for much of the Trump presidency, said in a statement that the incumbent "represents the status quo . . . that has left Mainers struggling."

"Angus King has had nearly 20 years in office to make a difference for Maine, and his time is up," Kouzounas said. "Our families are grappling with rampant inflation, a housing crisis, and ongoing border security issues. Maine deserves a senator who won't just talk about problems, but will roll up their sleeves and solve them."

According to federal campaign finance reports, King's reelection campaign had nearly $2.5 million in money available as of the the end of March. That dwarfs fundraising so far by any of his opponents.

Both Kouzounas and Costello, who has worked in government at the state and federal level, are unopposed in their respective June 11 party primaries. Neither King nor Cherry — a former FBI and criminal defense attorney — will appear on the primary ballots because they are running as independents.