Gary Warren Hart (born November 28, 1936) is a politician and lawyer from the state of Colorado. He formerly served as a Senator representing Colorado, and ran in the U.S. presidential elections in 1984 and 1988.
Hart was born in Ottawa, Kansas. He changed his last name from Hartpence to Hart in 1961. He grew up in and attended the public schools of Ottawa. Other schooling:
- Bethany (Okla.) Navarene College (grad 1958)
- Yale Divinity School (grad 1961)
- Yale University Law School (grad 1964)
He was special assistant to the solicitor of the United States Department of the Interior 1965-1967. He then engaged in private law practice in Denver, Colorado for the next seven years. He ran for and was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1974. He was reelected in 1980 and served until the end of his term January, 1987. During his second term, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 presidential election.
In early 1987, Hart was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 presidential election. It seemed that only Democratic party efforts to recruit New York Governor Mario Cuomo would thwart his nomination. Hart had put in a strong showing in the 1984 presidential election, and had refined his campaign in the intervening years.
However, questions about extramarital affairs dogged the charismatic candidate. An exasperated Hart challenged the press to tail him. The Miami Herald did exactly that, to uncover damaging evidence of an affair with 29-year-old model Donna Rice, getting a photograph of Rice sitting on Hart's lap. On May 8, 1987, a week after the Donna Rice story broke, Hart dropped out of the race.
In December of 1987, Hart returned to the race. However the damage had been done and his campaign went nowhere.
Hart resumed the practice of law. He remained moderately active in politics, serving on the bipartison Hart-Rudman Commission, commissioned on behalf of Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich in 1998 to study U.S. homeland security. The commission issued several findings calling for broad changes to security policy, but many were not heeded until the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack made the vulnerabilities in U.S. defenses obvious.
He earned a D.Phil. degree at Oxford University in 2001.