AUGUSTA — Democratic committee members who live in Kennebec and Somerset counties will meet Sunday to nominate a candidate for district attorney and settle a months-long dispute over who would be the party’s pick to succeed Evert Fowle.

Acting District Attorney Alan Kelley, of West Gardiner, will compete against Rep. Maeghan Maloney, D-Augusta, for the position.

The special meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the Poulin-Turner Union Hall at 653 Waterville Road in Skowhegan. Members of both county committees — estimated to number about 300 — will be eligible to vote at the special meeting.

The meeting will settle months of speculation and political wrangling that began in February when Maloney was chosen over Kelley by fellow Democrats to be the interim replacement for Fowle, who accepted an appointment as a District Court judge.

Despite the recommendation from county Democrats, Gov. Paul LePage refused to appoint Maloney, saying he wanted more than one person to choose from. Fowle had recommended Kelley as his replacement and Kelley has filled in as an interim.

Kelley wants the job on a permanent basis, too.

Last month, Maloney announced that she would not seek a second term to the Maine House so she could concentrate on her run for district attorney.

One interesting wrinkle in the race comes from efforts by medical marijuana advocates to support Maloney. Hillary Lister, chairwoman of the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said she and others think Maloney will be more friendly to their cause, especially since there are some gray areas in the law. Caregivers and growers are awaiting a new set of rules from the state which are expected to be released later this year.

“I don’t think it’s been a good use of taxpayer money to go after people growing a nontoxic plant,” she said. “One of the reasons the DA position is important for medical marijuana patients is because of the lack of rules. There is a lot of gray area.”

She estimated that dozens of medical marijuana supporters will show up Sunday to participate in the meeting.

Maloney said she supports the state law that allows some people to use marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. She said she’d be willing to meet with any groups that have questions about it to ensure that everyone is following the law.

“The role of the DA is to enforce the laws of the state,” she said. “Medical marijuana passed by referendum. I would enforce the law.”

Kelley could not be reached for comment Wednesday to talk about his position on medical marijuana.

Campaign finance reports show that Maloney has raised $6,435 to support her campaign, while Kelley has raised $1,870. Those numbers are likely to have grown in the last month, considering the most recent reporting deadline was June 1.

Kelley, 61, has worked in the district attorney’s office for 33 years and hopes his experience will win him enough support to get the nomination. Kelley is a former Republican who ran against Fowle in 2001, but later changed his party affiliation to Democrat. Kelley said the office has been tough on criminals, while also advancing alternative sentencing programs to try to help people turn their lives around.

“In the 33 years I’ve been here, it’s fair to say we’ve led the state and never followed in terms of what we’ve done,” he said.

Maloney, 41, is a former assistant attorney general and served as a deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon. She is a Harvard Law School graduate with 15 years experience.

“I’m the only candidate in the race that has both criminal and civil experience and the DA’s office is supposed to be enforcing both sets of laws,” she said.

The winner of Sunday’s caucus will face Republican Darrick Banda of Manchester in the fall race. Republicans meet Tuesday to officially nominate Banda, who is uncontested for the party nomination. The caucus is set for 7 p.m. at the Fairfield Community Center.

Banda, 36, is a former assistant district attorney who worked in Augusta, Waterville and Skowhegan. He is a former Army captain who describes himself as a capable trial attorney.

“I have a great rapport with all law enforcement agencies that work in central Maine,” he said. “I have a good understanding of how the office is run.”

Susan Cover — 621-5643

[email protected]

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