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Eliot Cutler OUT – King IN for Senate?

Just moments ago Eliot Cutler announced on his Facebook page that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Olympia Snowe. Cutler said in his announcement,

I have been deeply grateful for the extraordinary outpouring of sentiment in Maine encouraging me to run for the Senate.  I have thought long and hard about it, because I am powerfully committed, as you know, to reforming politics in America, rebuilding the center and restoring opportunity for those of us who live in Maine and for our children.

I have decided that the Senate would not be the best place for me to pursue those objectives.

Cutler’s decision not to run paves the way for a run by former governor Angus King, who has scheduled an announcement of his own at 8pm tonight at Bowdoin College following a scheduled speech. There are reports indicating that he will make it official with tonight’s announcement and enter the race.

Cutler is clearly throwing his support behind the Independent former governor, saying in his release,

I have had several long conversations with Angus King during the past week, and I hope that he will run for the U.S. Senate.

This development will have a major impact on the shape of the Senate race, as an independent will undoubtedly pull votes away from the two major parties. Congresswoman Chellie Pinger, who has yet to announce whether she will seek the seat, has not scheduled any type of announcement.

The announcement from Cutler and the pending decision by King could have some influence on her decision.