SALEM &

Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers said Tuesday he won't run in 2008 for a fourth term as the state's top lawyer.




The 67-year-old Democrat mentioned his age as a key factor in his decision, noting that he would be into his 70s during a fourth term. He said the Oregon Department of Justice, the 1,300-employee agency he oversees, deserves fresh leadership.




"'I don't want to cast offense on the many Oregonians who are working very productively beyond my present age, but we are talking about executive leadership of a very large and important department of government," he said.




Myers' announcement leaves a wide-open field in next year's attorney general's race.




Among those who have been mentioned as possible contenders are two Democrats &

state Rep. Greg Macpherson of Lake Oswego and John Kroger, a former federal prosecutor and professor at Lewis Clark Law School. Macpherson scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to announce his plans.




No Republicans have publicly discussed running to date, but state GOP spokesman Shawn Cleave said the party is talking with potential contenders and that Republicans "will definitely have a candidate" for attorney general.




At a news conference, Myers said he's proud of his record of consumer protection and advocacy for crime victims. He said he believes he brought professionalism to an office that needs a fair and impartial chief.




Myers also said he was "extremely proud" of the fact that his office won four cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during his tenure &

including the high court's February 2006 ruling upholding Oregon's assisted suicide law.




Myers said he hasn't decided on what he will do after he leaves the attorney general's post, but that his next step would likely entail some form of public service to continue his long career in government. Besides his nearly 12 years as attorney general, Myers is a former state lawmaker who served as speaker of the Oregon House in the early 1980s.




Along with electing a new attorney general in 2008 Oregon voters also will pick a new secretary of state and state treasurer.