Morning briefing 3.6.12

You may have heard that Gov. Angus King is getting in the U.S. Senate race. No, really, it’s true. The guy is running. 

I kid, but it’s worth pausing for a minute to discusshow King announced his candidacy.Maybe it’s because I haven’t covered the former governor all that much, but I was initially struck by his decision to piggyback on a lecture about the Cuban Missile Crisis to answer a week’s worth of speculation about his political future. I mean, the Cuban Missile Crisis? Where was the tie in?

Additionally, from a media standpoint, King decided to announce after the 6 p.m. television news.

On its face the move seemed curious.

However, King somehow made it work. The venue turned out to be a perfect for the former governor’s oratory skills. He moved easily about the room. He engaged the audience. He was funny.

King also managed to transition from the dire circumstances of the Cuban Missile Crisis to his candidacy without shamelessly exploiting a conflict that nearly catapulted the country into nuclear war. I’m not sure how he did it, but he did it.

In any event King will not be lacking for media attention. Prognosticators and pundits will be tempted to anoint him the frontrunner, but as they say, that’s why they have campaigns: It’s way too early to crown anybody, even a King.

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The focus of the senate race now shifts to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who is expected to make an announcement soon about whether she’ll resume her bid for the 1st Congressional District seat.

King’s entrance in the race will force her to consider it. Pingree may have had the edge in straight Republican-Democrat contest, but the math gets tricky with a viable independent like King, who would likely draw moderate Democrats and the majority of independents.

Pingree released a non-committal statement on Monday night. Expect something more substantive today.

If she moves back to the 1st District, expect the Democratic field to narrow considerably as lesser known candidates bow out.

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Speaking of Pingree, there’s been some chatter, even angst, among Democrats that her run for the senate was important because it increased the chances of keeping a woman in the male dominated chamber of Congress.

But here’s the thing: You can make the same argument for the U.S. House of Representatives.

There are currently 17 women in the Senate, making up 17 percent of the 100-member chamber.

There 73 women in the House, making up about 16.7 percent of the 435 members.

Of course, one could make the argument that an individual woman senator could make more of impact in the Senate given that it’s a small deliberative body.

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Meanwhile in Augusta the abbreviated session continues to move ahead. Action on the floor of the House and Senate should pick up this week as controversial bills come up for votes and debate.

Today will likely see a second vote on the Maine Clean Elections Act. Advocates say the outcome could determine the viability of the program.