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LISBON, Maine — Angus King has the air of a winner.
Sporting a red polo shirt and jeans, reading glasses draped around his neck, the former two-term governor and current Senate frontrunner confidently moves from one side of a crowded parade route to the other. He shakes hands, gives high-fives and poses for quick snapshots.
Attempting to greet all the parade watchers here who yell “Angus!” or “You’ve got our vote!” at him — which, along many stretches of the parade route, seems like everyone — he continually loses his contingent of about 20 young volunteers and staff marching with him.
He greets one middle-aged man along the parade route who lights up interacting with the Independent. “Good morning,” King says with a smile.
Later, in a staccato Maine accent, the man explains people “absolutely” have positive associations with King’s tenure as governor. Asked whether he usually votes Independent, the man pauses, furrows his brow, then says: “For him.”
King, 68, was last elected to office by Maine voters in 1998, but they haven’t forgotten about him.
The response King gets all around the Pine Tree State is like that of some old, beloved hometown prizefighter who has been out of the ring for 14 years but is now staging a comeback.
Republican ads will probably knock him back. But, on the ground here, among voters of all stripes, his reservoir of support appears so deep and the sense that he’s one of them appears so strong, King can probably afford a few missteps and a few thousand gross rating points of negative ads and still win.
Most voters say they have not been paying attention to the Senate race. The Washington, D.C., intrigue about which party King will caucus with seems far away.
A woman and her daughter along the route yell out King’s name. He goes over and quickly shakes their hands.
“He is just so friendly, down-to-earth, very nice,” she says, explaining why Mainers support him.
“He’s, like, a true Mainer,” the daughter adds.
‘Echelon of Trustworthiness’
Two recent independent polls found King at or above 50 percent in a horse-race matchup and leading GOP nominee Charlie Summers — the only serious challenger — by more than 25 points.
“The guy has the luck of the Irish, even with the name Angus King,” quipped a Republican strategist familiar with Maine. “He just gets lucky with the opponents he draws.”