The July 7 commentary by Richard J. Maiman and Donald E. Nicoll, about how Frank M. Coffin and Ed Muskie transformed Maine into a two-party system, brought back the memory of 1953, when I was a freshman at Bates, where I participated in an introductory class in government taught by John Donovan.

Famously, at the time, Donovan brought outside speakers to his “lab class” every Wednesday. One of those featured was a tall, slim failed candidate for mayor of Waterville. Doubtless, at the time, none of us had heard of Ed Muskie, who spoke about his mission to make Maine a two-party system. Surely at that time this seemed like an impossible dream, given the long-held toehold of the Republicans.

Amazingly, Ed Muskie, with the strong commitment of others, pulled off a huge upset soon thereafter. In addition to Frank Coffin, there were several others who performed key roles in the 1954 victory.

One of those indispensable persons was my professor, John Donovan, who later ran for office himself and then became a chaired professor at Bowdoin.

Richard Hooper


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