AUBURN – A local judge was named Monday to the short list for U.S. Attorney in the District of Maine by the state’s congressional delegation.

Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Thomas E. Delahanty II is one of four names forwarded to President Barack Obama by Maine’s two U.S. House members. A five-member advisory committee winnowed a list of 13 interested Maine attorneys to send to the White House, U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, both Democrats, wrote in a joint statement.

The other nominees are:

• District Attorney Evert Fowle Jr.;

• Former U.S. Attorney Jay P. McCloskey; and

• Attorney Thimi R. Mina.

Delahanty, who resides in Falmouth, said Monday that he was pleased to learn he was being considered. “I think it’s an honor to be included,” he said.

No stranger to the federal post, he was appointed in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter following his nomination by then-U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie.

Delahanty served a brief 15-month stint until President Ronald Reagan took office. By coincidence, McCloskey served as assistant under Delahanty before being named U.S. Attorney by President Bill Clinton.

Delahanty sees this as his chance to pick up where he left off.

This time though, if appointed, he would be getting in at the start of the administration when he could help formulate new priorities, practices, processes and policies for the new president.

Delahanty said he wouldn’t stay out of the courtroom and serve only as administrator. He would plan to prosecute cases along with his assistants, if possible, he said. He did that during his time as a district attorney.

“Practically my whole career I’ve spent on one side of the bench or the other,” he said.

The federal post is something of a family tradition.

Delahanty’s grandfather, John D. Clifford Jr., was appointed U.S. attorney for Maine by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and later was appointed a U.S. District Court judge by President Harry Truman.

In January, several people approached Delahanty about the post, urging him to put his name in the hat. “I talked to my family and decided I would give it a try,” he said.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with any dissatisfaction with being a judge in the Superior Court,” he said.

Although he’s seeking what’s considered a political appointment, Delahanty’s political activism took a hiatus 25 years ago. Before that, he was in the thick of Democratic politics in Maine, serving on both county and state party committees.

If appointed, Delahanty said he would expect most of his staff assistants, who have “an excellent reputation by the court and the bar,” to stay on, he said.

“This is Maine,” he said. “Everybody gets along.”

When he was last running it, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland employed five assistants. Now, there are more than four times that number, he said.

He doesn’t expect a decision from Washington anytime soon. Last time he was nominated – his was the only name offered to the administration – it took months before the White House made the formal appointment, he said.


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