The new Legislature will elect Maine’s attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer after members are sworn in Wednesday.

Barring a division within the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, or a surprise nomination, there’s a good chance that all three of the current constitutional officers will keep their jobs for another two years.

The 186 members of the Legislature elect the three officers by secret ballot during a joint convention of the House and Senate. Republicans have the majority in the Senate, but Democrats have the overall advantage because of their majority in the House.

All told, Democrats have 93 members – exactly half of the joint convention. Assuming that all Democratic legislators are present for the vote, they’ll need just one of the four independent lawmakers to join them to re-elect the three Democratic officers – Attorney General Janet Mills, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and Treasurer Neria Douglass. Three of the independents are returning members who have a history of voting with Democrats.

Rep. Jeff Evangelos, an independent from Friendship, said he’s inclined to support all three of the current Democratic officers.

“I see no reason to vote out people when they have done a good job,” Evangelos said.

Maine is the only state in which the Legislature elects its top law official, according to the National Association of Attorneys General. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia popularly elect their attorneys general, and the position is appointed by the governor in five states. In Tennessee, the Supreme Court fills the position.

The Maine attorney general serves in a number of capacities, including giving legal advice to state agencies, the governor and the Legislature. The office’s duties often collide with public policy, particularly if the legislative or executive branch asks the attorney general to find a legal reason to join or justify a policy proposal. That was the case in 2011 when Republican Attorney General William Schneider joined more than 20 other Republican-led states to challenge the Affordable Care Act.

More recently, Mills has irked Republican Gov. Paul LePage for declining to represent the administration in a court case centering on the state’s decision to cut about 6,000 people from the state’s Medicaid program, MaineCare. Instead, Mills joined opponents arguing that the proposal is unconstitutional.

LePage has had other clashes with Mills, prompting him to say upon his re-election that one of his challengers, independent Eliot Cutler, would make a fine replacement. The governor also has said that re-electing Mills would be a signal that Democrats aren’t willing to work with him.

Nonetheless, a Republican challenger has to emerge. To defeat Mills, Republicans would likely have to nominate someone who could divide the Democratic caucus. Republicans interviewed for this story said they were unaware of any candidates.

It’s a different story in the race for secretary of state. Democrat Matt Dunlap is seeking his fifth two-year term since 2005. Republican Jonathan Courtney of Springvale said he, too, is hoping for the post. Courtney, a former state senator and congressional candidate, said Democrats have the advantage.

“It’s secret ballot, so you never know what will happen,” he said. “That’s why you get involved in elections.”

Dunlap’s chances are good, although Democrats have privately expressed frustration that he hasn’t been more active in the controversy over 21 apparently uncounted ballots that surfaced in the town of Long Island during the recount of the Senate District 25 election.

As Maine’s top election official, the secretary of state is likely to draw criticism from one or both parties over a variety of electoral matters. Maine is one of three states that elect their secretary of state in the Legislature. In most states the position is popularly elected, while in others the governor appoints the position.

There’s at least one contest for state treasurer. Douglas, the Democrat, will be challenged by former state Rep. Terry Hayes of Buckfield. Hayes has historically been a Democrat, but she dropped out of the party this year to support Cutler’s gubernatorial bid. In 2012, she ran unsuccessfully against Mark Eves of North Berwick in the race for House speaker.

She later made public her frustrations with the Maine Democratic Party and what she viewed as its too-cozy alliance with labor unions and interest groups.

Douglas was elected treasurer in 2012. While she made a few attempts to further Democrats’ claims that LePage was holding hostage some borrowing packages approved by voters, she has stayed out of the limelight, a tradition that most Maine treasurers have adhered to since Portland’s Joseph Boyd was elected to the post in 1820.

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