If Angus King, senator-elect from Maine, joins with Democrats, the party would enjoy a 55-seat majority, five votes short of the 60 votes needed to break filibusters.

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Angus King, the independent senator-elect from Maine, hasn’t decided with which party he plans to caucus next year and doesn’t rule out joining with Republicans, despite the party’s decision to spend millions of dollars in attack ads against him.

King, a popular former two-term governor who served as an independent from 1995 to 2003, will succeed Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican, next year after winning election Tuesday with 53 percent of the vote. Snowe’s surprise decision to retire instead of run for re-election spoiled the Republican Party’s hopes of regaining the Senate majority, especially once King jumped into the race and cleared the field of any significant opposition.

As for joining with Republicans, King said Thursday: “I’m not ruling it out, I’m not ruling it in. I’m not ruling it out with the Democrats one way or the other, either.”

He added: “I hope to be able to make a decision next week and move on. There’s no reason to drag this out. I’m not being coy, I’m not trying to draw attention to myself, I just want to do something that’s true to what I committed to my constituents up here and that is to be a good senator on their behalf.”

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King’s decision to caucus with Republicans would serve as an embarrassment for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Democrats, who declined to support members of their own party in Maine’s Senate race on the assumption that King would join them next year.

If King joins with Democrats, the party would enjoy a 55-seat majority, five votes short of the 60 votes needed to break filibusters.

King said he plans to meet with party leaders next week on the sidelines of new-member orientation. His decision will be based on two criteria: “One that will allow me maximum of independence and one that will maximize my effectiveness.”

In a sign of how important his decision could be in advancing the Obama administration’s priorities in the next four years, King said he’s already heard from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who both offered congratulations but didn’t ask about his decision.

“It was all about working together for the country, which is a pretty good idea, I think,” he said.

Among Republicans, he said he’s heard from Snowe and Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine; Roy Blunt, of Missouri; and Bob Corker, of Tennessee. Notably absent: a call from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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