DSCC chair doesn't rule out backing independent candidate in Maine

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Patty MurrayPatty MurrayLawmakers blast poultry, meat industries over worker injuries Senate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Wash.) denied rumors she had discussed Maine's open Senate race with former Maine Gov. Angus KingAngus KingLawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill House, Senate at odds on new authority for cyber war unit House defense bill elevates cyber force, defying White House MORE, an independent.

But she did not rule out the possibility that the DSCC could back him in the race.

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"I've not talked to him," Murray told The Hill Tuesday afternoon.

When asked if there was any chance the DSCC would back King, Murray did not rule it out. "I'm not going to get into the 'what if' games," she said.

The race emerged as a top Democratic target when Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced her retirement last week, but King's entrance has complicated things for the Democrats because he could play the spoiler role in the race.

If King, a popular former governor, wins as an independent, he would pick which party he will caucus with.

His formal entry into the race, which happened Monday night, led to Republican rumors that Democrats have asked Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who has not officially entered the race, to step aside in favor of King. That would likely avoid a situation where Democratic vote is split, which could hand the seat to the GOP.

But Murray dismissed the notion and said she thought Democrats would make a strong run for the seat.

"Maine is a great opportunity for us," she said. "We'll see more play out here in the next couple of days."

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