AUGUSTA, Maine — Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine will vote against President Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary because of her views in favor of school choice.

“Her whole career has been school choice to the exclusion of the basic public education system, and I am just such a firm believer in public education that I can’t go that far,” said King to the Portland Press Herald on Tuesday. King’s staff circulated the article to reporters Tuesday evening.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education, is a proponent of school voucher systems, which in general allow public education dollars to pay for students to attend the school of their choice — including private and religious schools.

“My dad used to say that public schools are the idea at the heart of democracy,” said King. “I would hate to depart from that in a wholesale fashion.”

DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist, underwent tense questioning during her confirmation hearing with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Jan. 17, and a confirmation vote in the full Senate is scheduled for Jan. 31. Senate Democrats have requested the vote be delayed so they can hold additional hearings with DeVos.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has not said how she will vote on DeVos.

King said Tuesday that he will support two of Trump’s other nominations: former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for ambassador to the United Nations and Elaine Chao to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.