AUGUSTA — After falling short in his gubernatorial run, Democratic state Sen. Mark Dion of Portland said Thursday he hopes to be chosen as Maine’s next attorney general.

Dion said that competing in the Democratic primary made him realize he would like to be the state’s top legal officer, where he can serve the public as “a bridge builder” who can work with the Legislature and the next governor.

The attorney general is one of three statewide positions chosen every two years by the Legislature.

During the campaign, Dion said he would prefer to have the public elect the attorney general instead of relying on lawmakers to pick somebody.

Mark Dion

He said that instead of having 74 legislators make the choice, it would be far better to give the people the power to make the decision.

Dion said that when the Legislature picks someone for the job, it’s intrinsically a “highly partisan” move and leaves the attorney general without a foundation of wide public backing.

A statewide election would make it easier for an attorney general to speak with authority as a more non-partisan official who can articulate public policy that’s not beholden to lawmakers.

In addition, Dion said, having an elected attorney general would also offer “a good platform to develop future state leaders” that doesn’t exist in the same way now.

The other statewide posts picked by legislators are the treasurer and secretary of state.

Dion said he strongly supports the election of Janet Mills, the current attorney general, as the next governor. She won this month’s Democratic primary to face Republican Shawn Moody in the Nov. 6 general election, which also includes independents Alan Caron and Terry Hayes.

Dion said that as the attorney general, Mills “has stood steadfast for the rule of law in often difficult circumstances. She has set the bar for what we should expect from our next attorney general.”

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Dion, a retired Portland police officer and ex-sheriff of Cumberland County, has a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.

In 2010, he co-chaired the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.

“I’ve spent eight years in the Legislature and I believe that I’ve established a reputation as a collaborator, as a problem solver,” Dion said in a prepared statement.

“I think this experience is exactly what Maine needs in its next attorney general. It would be an honor to continue to serve my state and the interests of all Maine people, and I would do so to the best of my ability,” Dion said.

No other contenders for the attorney general post have emerged. The Legislature will pick someone in December.

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