AUGUSTA — Kennebec County Democrats will let stand their decision to provide a single candidate for Gov. Paul LePage to consider for appointment to the vacant Kennebec County sheriff’s position.

The committee declined to accede to a directive by the governor to provide additional names for his consideration after more than two hours of debate.

Party members debated broad strokes of the law and the finer points of parliamentary procedure to guide their thinking.

One group strongly advocated forwarding the name of Ken Mason, now the chief deputy at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, to satisfy the governor. Mason put his name forward in the nominating process last fall, but the Democratic Committee opted not to submit it.

Mason, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said he wants a fair process.

“My hat’s off to Ryan for getting the votes,” Mason said, referring to Kennebec County Interim Sheriff Ryan Reardon, whose name the Democrats submitted to the governor. “We knew going in he wanted two names.”

Committee members decisively voted down a proposal to repeal its decision to forward a single name.

They were less clear about what they wanted to see happen next.

They debated doing nothing and letting the nomination stand, seeking a determination by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court to clarify the law, changing the committee’s procedures to allow two names to go forward, withdrawing the nomination and repeating the process later in the year, possibly at the same time as the committee caucuses to choose a candidate for the November special election.

Committee Chairwoman Rita Moran said she had spoken to Walter McKee, an attorney who agreed to offer advice on the matter, who said the committee’s best option is putting the nomination on hold.

Attorney General Janet Mills, who is a Democrat, sent a letter to Moran notifying her that she had been asked to render an opinion on the matter, noting that while the law was unclear, it appeared to support the position that more than one candidate name should be forwarded.

The seeds of this debate were sown last year when LePage, who has stalled on appointing county officials in the past, appointed former Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty to the warden’s position at the Maine State Prison in Warren. Because Liberty is a Democrat, the county Democratic Committee is obliged to provide candidates for the governor’s approval.

The law that governs this action does not enumerate the number of candidates, although the governor has said he wants additional names to consider in this instance.

Liberty’s term runs through 2018. A special election in November will determine who will fill the vacancy for the balance of the term.

In the meantime, Reardon is serving as interim sheriff.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ