King, an independent from Maine, says he doesn’t know the political affiliation of two-thirds of the people who work for him, and he doesn’t ask.
“Moving into the next Congress, it’s important that we proceed with a robust legislative agenda predicated on the principles of bipartisanship so that we may bring people together and accomplish the work of the nation — and under Senator King’s leadership, I know that we will do just that,” Metzler said in a statement praising his new boss.
Others, including King’s state director and the scheduler in the Washington office have had Republican political backgrounds. Some are former elected officials in the state.
“We have a former Democratic state senator, Elizabeth Schneider, who’s up in Bangor and a Republican state senator Chris Rector who’s in Augusta,” King said.
Both Schneider and Rector will work for King as regional representatives in the home state, King’s office said in a release.
“Frankly, I don’t even know the political affiliation of two-thirds of these people,” King said. “It’s never a question that we ask.”
King also offered an anecdote from his time as governor where, during an informal discussion about state-level judicial appointments, a fellow governor was startled that King picked lawyers to serve as judges without regard to party ID.
“You have to remember, I’ve done this before. I was governor for eight years, and I found that being able to appoint people ... without regard to party was a huge advantage,” King said. “If you limit your choices to one party, you’ve eliminated two-thirds of the talent pool at the outset, and in my view, these jobs are ... enormously dependent upon the quality of the people you have working for you, and to eliminate two-thirds of the talent pool just strikes me as silly.”
King faced questions about his staff and cabinet composition during his time as governor of Maine, when reporters would ask for a partisan breakdown of the cabinet and King’s office wouldn’t always know. King and Rand conceded that in at least one case, they had incorrectly guessed the partisan affiliation of an appointment.
“It’s not in my nature to exclude people or their ideas because of their political party. I just have never thought that way,” King said.
“The impulse to denigrate and dislike other people because of their political persuasion has never been one that I’ve understood.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.