When Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, memorialized the late Sen. William Hathaway, D-Maine, it wasn’t just an instance of a sitting senator paying homage to a predecessor.
Such tributes aren’t rare. What made King’s relatively unique was he was also talking about a former boss.
“Bill Hathaway taught me a lot about how to do this job. Next to my dad, he was probably the most influential adult in my life when I was a young person. He was honest. He was smart. He was analytical, and he was motivated to do the right thing for the people of this country and the people of the State of Maine,” King said on the floor June 25, the day after the 89-year old former senator and House member died in McLean, Va.
As King told CQ Roll Call’s Emily Cahn back in April, he was sworn in 40 years to the day he got his start working for Hathaway, a formative experience that helped prepare him for elected office years later. King was counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Narcotics under Hathaway. He went on to be governor of Maine for two terms, from 1995-2003. He was elected to the Senate in 2012, replacing the retiring Republican Olympia Snowe.
Perhaps it’s a Maine thing. King’s Republican home-state colleague, Sen. Susan Collins, worked for Sen. William Cohen, R-Maine, from 1975-87, first as an aide when Cohen was in the House, then also when he was elected to the Senate. When Cohen retired from the Senate, Collins won his seat in 1996.
To show how small the world of politics can be, Cohen won Hathaway’s House seat in 1972 when Hathaway left it to run for the Senate. Cohen then defeated Hathaway for his Senate seat in 1978. Fast forward almost two decades and King defeated Collins in 1994 to become governor of the Pine Tree State.