Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Paul H. Mills
Dolloff and the Cuban Missile Crisis
Dolloff's primary win was a precursor to an even closer November election against Gov. John Reed. Dolloff's 483-vote loss out of nearly 300,000 cast would, like the primary that preceded it, be subject to a recount.
As with elections today, a prime issue was the economy: the GOP incumbent Reed defending it, with Dolloff assailing it as stagnating. The candidates also sparred about a tightening of the eligibility for unemployment benefits, a factor in an endorsement by organized labor -- then a more potent factor in Maine politics -- of the Democratic candidate.
About two weeks before the election, however, the campaign was jarred by the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union about the revelation of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
News events about what for a time seemed like the brink of a world war pre-empted voter interest in the Maine campaign. Both candidates curtailed active campaigning in most of the final days.
As with the campaign of any challenger taking on a better-known incumbent, sustaining voter attention before an election can be crucial. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a probable factor in Dolloff's loss.
The crisis shifted the spotlight to Reed, who as governor helped supervise an emergency civil defense operating center in the basement of the State Office Building. Reed also mounted plans to move various government facilities to underground locations.
Many races on the ballot throughout the state that year were subject to recounts, leading GOP Chairman David Nichols to observe:
"The glib answer is to say that today voters are attracted to personalities rather than motivated by party loyalty. Is this not partly due, however, to our failure to clearly draw the line between the parties? We must strive for a more positive image with which each voter can associate himself. Stronger emphasis should be placed upon those principles which have traditionally distinguished our Party."
Nichols would not have to wait long for both a starker choice and more resounding voter mandate. Just two years later, President Lyndon Johnson led a Democratic landslide over a GOP ticket headed by Sen. Barry Goldwater, a campaign well known for the striking ideological differences of the two major parties.
The 1964 election also swept Democrats into control of the Maine Legislature for the first time since 1914. That Legislature elected Dolloff as commissioner of Agriculture, a post he would keep for more than 10 years. Dolloff then went to Washington, first as an OSHA consultant and then as an assistant Secretary of Agriculture.
Retiring to Waldoboro in 1981, Dolloff resumed active interest in the Grange until his death at age 85 in 1999.
Dubord and the Muskie Campaign
Dubord's rendezvous with major office also came with the 1964 elections, when the Legislature chose him to be state attorney general.
Acclaimed as a hands-on team player, Dubord was one of the last AGs to take the lead as the state's in-court prosecutor of homicide cases.
The 1966 restoration of GOP control of the Legislature spelled the end of Dubord's days as AG, but an even wider horizon opened up to him with the nomination of his longtime Waterville colleague and Rumford native, Edmund Muskie, as Hubert Humphrey's running mate in 1968.
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