York County District Attorney Mark Lawrence is withdrawing from the November election, saying he would like to spend more time with his children.

The county’s chief prosecutor was running unopposed for the seat he has held for seven years. His withdrawal means York County Democrats will select a replacement candidate.

Lawrence, a former state Senate president and congressional candidate, told his staff of his decision Friday.

Lawrence said he and his wife are intent on spending time with their two daughters, who are 8 and 6. “We want to structure our lives and careers to spend the most amount of time with our children as they grow up,” he said.

Lawrence said he plans to complete his term, which expires at the end of this year, and seek a private-sector legal job that gives him more control over his schedule. The district attorney’s job can require long hours and night meetings, he said.

Lawrence was in private practice for 14 years before he became district attorney.

He intended to run for re-election this year because the recession had left his wife, Tina Cunningham, unemployed.

But Cunningham, a human resources professional, landed a job last month with Measured Progress, a company in Dover, N.H., that creates standardized tests such as the Maine Educational Assessment. Lawrence said his wife’s success allowed him to step aside.

He said he feels that he is leaving the prosecutor’s office in good shape despite deep staff cuts last fall in response to a budget crisis. The staff is now almost at full strength, and the office has a dedicated domestic-violence prosecution team.

Lawrence, 51, served in the Legislature from 1988 to 2000 and was Senate president for two terms. He challenged U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe in 2000 and ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in 2008, coming up short both times.

Gov. John Baldacci appointed Lawrence in 2003 to succeed District Attorney Michael Cantara, who became Maine’s public safety commissioner. Lawrence was elected in 2004 to complete Cantara’s term, and was re-elected in 2006.

Lawrence decided to withdraw from November’s election just before the deadline. After Monday, his name would have remained on the ballot even if he didn’t want to run.

Mary Erin Casale, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party, said Lawrence’s replacement on the ballot will be chosen by members of the county Democratic committee. Any registered Democrat who lives in York County is eligible to participate, she said.

Lawrence’s decision doesn’t create an opening — on the ballot anyway — for Republicans. Because the party didn’t nominate anyone to run in the fall, members cannot add someone to the ballot, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]