AUGUSTA — The race for the Democratic nomination for district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset counties entered a new phase Thursday when Rep. Maeghan Maloney, D-Augusta, announced she is not going to seek reelection to the Legislature so she can focus on the district attorney contest.

Maloney will face a challenge from fellow Democrat Alan Kelley, the interim district attorney who has filled in for Evert Fowle since he left to accept an appointment as a district court judge in February. Other qualified Democrats may enter the race for district attorney as well, according to Rita Moran, chairwoman of the Kennebec County Democratic Committee.

Nominees must be residents of either county, a Democrat and be admitted to practice law in Maine, she said.

“My concern is number one, that the process be open and transparent,” she said. “My second concern is when we are done, everyone feels as though it was fair.”

Maloney’s decision to drop out of the House District 57 race means Augusta Democrats will have to pick a new candidate. They are set to meet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at City Center to name a replacement for the November ballot.

Former lawmaker Patsy Crockett, who held the seat before Maloney, said she will seek the nomination. Crockett left the House in 2010 to run for the Senate, but was defeated by Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta.

The winner will face Andrew Worcester of Augusta, who defeated Michael Hein on Tuesday in the Republican primary. Worcester has not responded to repeated attempts to reach him and he again couldn’t be reached Thursday.

Maloney, 41, of Augusta, was chosen by fellow Democrats in February to replace Fowle on an interim basis, but Gov. Paul LePage did not appoint her to the position, setting up a stalemate. LePage has said he wanted a longer list of choices, but county Democrats have said they will not offer up any other names. Kelley was Fowle’s recommendation to fill in as interim district attorney.

Democrats from Kennebec and Somerset counties will meet sometime in mid-July to pick a nominee for the November ballot. Moran said a date has not yet been set. The winner will face Republican Darrick Banda.

Kelley, 61, of West Gardiner, said he expects far more Democrats to participate in the caucus this summer. In February, 36 people voted at the meeting to choose Maloney. He hopes his 33 years of experience in the district attorney’s office will earn him support.

Kelley is a former Republican who ran against Fowle in 2001, but lost after what he described as a “gentlemanly campaign.” He later changed his party affiliation to Democrat out of respect for Fowle, but said regardless of political party, he is focused on bringing criminals to justice and implementing programs to help reduce the number of repeat offenders.

“I know this work as well or perhaps better than anyone else in this state,” he said.

Maloney said her experience in the Legislature, and ideas she’s gained from time spent in Asia working on domestic violence, give her a varied background that make her a strong candidate. She said she grew up poor in Lewiston and understands how hard it is for someone accused of a crime to make bail.

She’s also been trained as a guardian for children in court, which has given her experience working with children in abusive situations.

“I do think it’s important that I understand what it means to be poor,” she said.

 

Susan Cover — 621-5643

[email protected]

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