If justice is blind, why do we elect prosecutors on a partisan basis? There may be good reasons, or the rationale for doing so could be tied to some feature of our relatively short history as a democracy. Whatever the reason, on this coming Tuesday, Democratic voters in Cumberland County will choose their nominee to run unopposed in the November general election. And it’s a hot race.

Often, when those of us in Maine proper are looking for entertainment, we set our sights on Portland. The campaign to elect the top prosecutor in the county that surrounds our big city is no exception.

Incumbent District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck faces a spirited challenge from Kennebec County Assistant DA Jackie Sartoris for the nomination. A self-described progressive, Sartoris intimates – according to advertising of her candidacy – that Sahrbeck is an insufficiently pure Democrat. After all, he used to be both a Republican and an Independent.

According to news reports over the past week, other aspects of Sartoris’ critique of her opponent include his failure to prosecute sexual assault charges more thoroughly and the lack of effort he’s allegedly made to address the racial disparity in charging people with crimes.

What has made this race newsworthy beyond Portland is the influx of about $300,000 in out-of-state PAC funds provided largely by billionaire activist George Soros on Sartoris’ behalf. Nationally the Right has been foaming at the mouth about Soros prosecutors for some time, the most famous of whom is San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin (whom voters there overwhelmingly recalled on Tuesday). Until learning about this race, I suspected some hyperbole there, but lo and behold, Soros prosecutors really are a thing.

In addition to the question of whether we should be electing prosecutors in the first place comes the new one: Should courts of criminal law be the grounds for political gamesmanship? As someone who’s had a ringside seat to a political prosecution at the national level, I have to confess the idea of Maine embracing the practice makes me slightly queasy.

In general, prosecutors are seldom popular these days. Just ask Vice President Kamala Harris who, after running to be a “prosecutor president” came in fourth in her home state of California. The only prosecutor ever elected to the White House I’m aware of is Richard Nixon, and that didn’t end well. Our current governor, Janet Mills, is a career prosecutor. This November we’ll see how that pedigree fairs with Maine voters, or whether she chooses to play up or down her record of putting people in prison.

All of this said, Sartoris makes some interesting points. We should be putting fewer people in prison, full stop. America incarcerates a higher percentage of our citizens than any nation on earth. Alternative sentencing is both a smart and a moral option to a criminal justice system that is, put politely, rife with problems. For some bizarre reason, judges tend to sentence violent criminals too lightly and non-violent criminals too harshly.

But holding Sahrbeck responsible for a national-level problem with racial disparity in charging, convicting and sentencing is a bridge too far. After all, shouldn’t justice be color-blind as well? A Democrat voter in Cumberland County whom I asked about this primary challenge said he believes Sahrbeck has a decent record when it comes to criminal justice reform (and overall job performance).

In responding to my request for an interview, Sartoris shared her frustration with the coverage focused on the PAC funding in support of her candidacy. Technically she has a point, but she hasn’t disavowed the Soros group, either. Would her election make Portland more like San Francisco? Arguably America needs fewer people in public office who deflect tough questions with “there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Somehow I just can’t shake the political purity thing. I’m a Republican who has been at odds with my party on various issues long before Trump, so I know I’d lose any intramural race that was about “purity.” The Democrats clearly face similar challenges within their own ranks.

What will be interesting to the rest of us, who look at Cumberland County the way people used to look at television, is whether partisan purity is indeed the priority. Turnout is likely to be low, and in such situations $300,000 goes a long way.

Next Wednesday we’ll most likely know.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.