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Gary Hart

Gary Warren Hartpence was born in Ottawa, Kansas, to Carl Riley and Nina Pritchard Hartpence, on November 28, 1936. He attended local schools and graduated from Bethany Nazarene College.

Hartpence married Oletha M Ludwig in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 10, 1958. He attended both Yale Divinity and Yale Law School. Both he and his father changed their surnames to Hart for simplicity. He began his career as an attorney with the U. S. Department of Justice. He was admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia and Colorado in 1965. After serving as the assistant to the solicitor of the U. S. Department of the Interior, Hart entered private practice at a firm in Denver, Colorado.

During the 1972 presidential primary Hart was named campaign manager for Democratic candidate George McGovern. Following McGovern’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, Hart ran a successful campaign himself in 1974 for the U. S. Senate. As the junior senator from Colorado he earned a position on the Armed Services Committee; he was reelected in 1980.

In 1984 Hart launched a campaign for president. Walter Mondale received the Democrat Party’s nomination and lost to incumbent President Ronald Reagan. Hart launched a second campaign for president in 1988, opting not run for reelection in the U.S. Senate. Allegations of an extra-marital affair began to circulate and Hart suspended his campaign, then reentered the race but failed to overcome the negative publicity. The party nominated Michael Dukakis who lost his bid to the Republican candidate, George H. W. Bush.

Hart returned to law, then pursued a doctorate in politics from Oxford University in 2001. Although he had considered a third run for president in 2004, he instead endorsed Democratic nominee John Kerry. Hart has written articles for the Huffington Post  and other media, published books, served on the Council of Foreign Relations, served as vice chair of the advisory council for the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and has been a guest lecturer to multiple universities.

In October 2014 Hart was appointed as the U. S. Envoy to Northern Ireland. He served in that capacity until January 20, 2017.

Entry: Hart, Gary

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2017

Date Modified: January 2018

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.