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Incoming Independent Senator Expected to Pick Party Caucus

US Department of Energy(WASHINGTON) -- Maine’s new Independent Senator-elect, Angus King, says he expects to make a decision as soon as Wednesday on which party caucus he will join after taking the oath of office next year, although he promised to work with both parties as a senator.

“My intention is to make that decision probably this week and to announce it,” King said in the hallways of the U.S. Senate while visiting for new member orientation Tuesday. “But the important thing is, whichever decision I make, I don’t consider that building a wall between myself and the other party.”

King will replace the retiring moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. Independent senators usually caucus with either Republicans or Democrats on procedural issues and in order to receive assignments on committees. Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, for instance, caucuses with Democrats.

During the campaign King demurred, but it is widely expected that he will caucus with the Democrats. If so, the Democrats would hold 55 seats in the Senate, compared to 45 held by Republicans.

King has insisted that he’s having conversations with both Republicans and Democrats as each party tries to woo him to its side.

The incoming Independent senator met with retiring Republican Sen. Snowe Monday and on Tuesday he met with Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who he defeated in 1994 to become Maine’s governor.

Collins said following their meeting that she hopes King will follow her lead as a centrist and caucus with the Republicans.

“I would love to have Angus King as a member of our Republican caucus,” Collins said. “I certainly hope he will make a decision to join our caucus, but regardless, I am positive he won’t be an automatic vote for either caucus and instead will look at issues on their merit and will reach across the aisle regardless of what side of the aisle he’s sitting on.”

King will have a social dinner Tuesday night with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other newly elected senators.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio