Just one of Maine’s eight district attorneys ran unopposed four years ago. But unless more candidates step up before the March 15 filing deadline, every prosecutor in the state could be elected without opposition in November.
Two incumbent district attorneys are not seeking reelection this fall while two other prosecutors have challengers in their party primaries. But no candidates have emerged to force a competitive general election in any of Maine’s eight prosecutorial districts.
That means voters will have no choice when choosing the top prosecutor for their region. District attorneys can prioritize the kinds of cases their offices prosecute and recommend sentences for criminal defendants.
Marianne Lynch, district attorney for Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, and Andrew Robinson, district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, have said they aren’t running again.
Lynch, 60, of Bangor was an assistant prosecutor when she was elected in 2018 after her boss, R. Christopher Almy, a Democrat, did not run for reelection but stayed on as an assistant district attorney. In an unusual move, Almy, 72, of Charleston is seeking to get his old job back. So far, no one is running against him.
Lynch, a Republican, has not said why she isn’t running for reelection, but her husband, father and a brother-in-law have died in the past two years.
“It has been my honor to serve as district attorney for Penobscot and Piscataquis County and to have led an office of dedicated professionals,” she said Thursday. “It has been my highest honor to work with them.”
Almy was first elected district attorney in 1985 after his boss Margaret “Peggy” Kravchuk was appointed to be a District Court judge. He was easily reelected after that until he chose not to run in 2018.
“I’m running again because it is a great job, it’s challenging and the folks that work in our two offices are a fun bunch of people,” said Almy, who has worked as an assistant district attorney under Lynch.
Almy also said that he wants to work closely with the courts to clear the tremendous backlog of criminal cases caused by the pandemic. The backlog in Penobscot County alone is one of the largest in the state.
In western Maine, Robinson, 51, of Farmington is quitting after two decades as a prosecutor. The Democrat first was elected in 2014 after working in the district attorney’s office for about 15 years. He was reelected to the position four years later. Robinson was not specific about his plans for the future.
“I’ve reached a point in my professional life where I feel like I have done all the amazing things that I wanted to accomplish as a district attorney,” Robinson said Thursday. “I have had a rich and full experience and now I’m ready for new challenges. I am looking forward to my next adventure.”
Neil E. McLean Jr., 53, of Turner, a Republican, is the only person seeking to replace Robinson. He has been a prosecutor in western Maine for 15 years.
“I want to continue to serve the people with my commitment to accountability, fairness, integrity and the equal application of justice throughout Oxford, Franklin, and Androscoggin counties,” he said Thursday. “If I am elected, I plan to prioritize the continued battle against illegal drugs, human trafficking, and working towards equal access to criminal justice for all.”
In Hancock and Washington counties, incumbent District Attorney Matthew Foster, 53, of Hancock will face perennial opponent Steven Juskewitch, 73, of Dedham in the Republican primary. Juskewitch has run for the position and lost every four years since 2002, sometimes as a Democrat, sometimes as a Republican and, four years ago, as an independent.
In Cumberland County, District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck, 42, of Cape Elizabeth is facing a challenge from Jacqueline Sartoris, 58, of Brunswick in the Democratic primary. Sahrbeck won four years ago as an independent after both the Republican and Democratic candidates dropped out. He replaced longtime District Attorney Stephanie Anderson, 69, of Portland, who retired.
The incumbent district attorneys currently without opponents in the primary or general election are Kathryn Slattery, 62, of York County; Maeghan Maloney, 50, of Kennebec and Somerset counties; Natasha Irving, 39, of Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties; and Todd Collins, 49, of Aroostook County. All are Democrats.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the town where Matthew Foster lives.