CONCORD, N.H. -– Attorney General Michael Delaney is stepping down after 14 years in public service to return to private practice, saying it’s the right move for him and his young family.

Delaney’s term expires March 31, but he assured Gov. Maggie Hassan he would stay on longer if necessary to assure a smooth transition for his successor.

Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg would not comment Tuesday on whether there is a front-runner for the job, saying only that the governor is working as quickly as possible to identify highly qualified candidates.

The five-member Executive Council will have to confirm her nominee by a majority vote.

There has been speculation at the Statehouse in recent weeks had that Hassan wanted to appoint her own attorney general, but Goldberg stressed that it was Delaney’s decision to step down and that Hassan “would have been happy if he would have stayed on.”

The 43-year-old Delaney served in the attorney general’s office from 1999 to 2006, when he left to become Gov. John Lynch’s legal counsel.

When Attorney General Kelly Ayotte stepped down in 2009 to run for the U.S. Senate, Lynch appointed Delaney to succeed her.

Delaney said recent highlights in his career include the murder convictions of Steven Spader and Christopher Gribble in the 2009 Mont Vernon home invasion in which a young mother died and her 11-year-old daughter was maimed.