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Hollywood, Politics & Monkey Business - December 14, 2018

The Front Runner (Photo from Sony Pictures)

Q: The Front Runner is a new movie about a former U.S. Senator and the 1987 scandal that sank his presidential campaign. What's the name of the politician portrayed in the film by Hugh Jackman -- and where in Kansas was he born?

A: Gary Hart / Ottawa, Kansas    

Gary Hart was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Colorado from 1975 to 1987 and a candidate for president in 1984 and 1988. He is perhaps best known for being the front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination until he dropped out over allegations of an extramarital affair. Gary Hart was born Gary Warren Hartpence in Ottawa, Kansas, on November 28, 1936. (He and his father changed their last names from Hartpence to Hart in the 1960s.)  

After graduating from Yale Law School, Hart pursued a legal career in Denver. He also worked in politics, managing Senator George McGovern's successful campaign for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination and McGovern's unsuccessful general election campaign against President Richard Nixon. Hart ran for office himself and in 1974 and was elected to represent Colorado in the U.S. Senate.

Hart sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, narrowly losing the race to former Vice President Walter Mondale. Hart declined to seek re-election to the Senate in 1986 and sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988. He was widely viewed as the front-runner until reports surfaced of an extramarital affair, and Hart withdrew from the race in May 1987. He re-entered the race in December 1987 but withdrew from the race again after faring poorly in the early primaries.

Hart returned to private practice after the 1988 election and has served in a variety of public roles since then.

Gary Hart is portrayed by actor Hugh Jackman in the 2018 film The Front Runner, which focuses on his 1987 scandals.

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