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Klauder: Buckingham Library

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         Gary Hart Papers

Gary Warren Hart was born November 28, 1936 in Ottawa, Kansas where his father sold farm equipment.  In 1958 he graduated from Bethany Nazarene College in Oklahoma after financing his education by working on railroad construction crews during the summers.  After his graduation he married Oletha (Lee) Ludwig whom he had met at Bethany and later the Hart's had two children Andrea, born in 1964, and John, born in 1966.  From Bethany the Hart's moved to Connecticut where he earned degrees from the Yale Divinity School in 1961 and the Yale Law School in 1964. Gary Hart often visited relatives in Colorado.  In the summers from 1954-1962 he worked on the Santa Fe and Colorado & Southern Railroads.  He began his move to Colorado in 1965 when he took the Colorado bar exam and he came to live and practice law in Denver in 1967, focusing on natural resource and environmental law.


Gary Hart's public service began when he volunteered in the campaign of President John F. Kennedy.  He spent 1964-1966 in Washington, D.C. as an attorney in the Justice Department and as Special Assistant to Secretary Stewart Udall at the Interior Department.  In 1968 he worked as a volunteer for Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign in Colorado. As a Denver resident Hart served on the Board of Commissioners of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, he lectured on natural resources law at the University of Colorado School of Law at Boulder and he was  a member of the Park Hill Action Committee, the area where the Hart's  lived.


Despite his youth, Hart ran Senator McGovern's national presidential bid in the two years preceding the 1972 election. He entered politics in his own right in 1974 and, aided by the awakening of environmental ethics and the changing demographics of the Colorado electorate, he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Colorado and was narrowly reelected in 1980.  In the Senate, Hart was member of the Armed Services Committee - Subcommittees on Military Construction, Strategic & Theatre Nuclear Forces, and Sea Power & Force Projection.  He was a member of the Budget Committee and a member of the Environment & Public Works Committee - Subcommittees on Environmental Pollution, Nuclear Regulation, Toxic Substances & Environmental Oversight, and National Commission on Air Quality.  He was also a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.  He was the Congressional advisor to the SALT II negotiations and he chaired the Senate investigation into the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident of 1979.


Among many interests and legislative activities Senator Hart participated in the passage of the Superfund legislation and the Clean Air Act.  He consistently opposed Reaganomics and was one of the leading Congressional supporters of SALT II.  He was a leader in the debates concerning nuclear non-proliferation, comprehensive nuclear test bans and the need for a strong and more effective U.S. military.  In Colorado, among many issues, he was particularly interested in the development of Colorado's oil shale resources and the designation of and uses of federal land within the State.


Early in 1983 Senator Hart announced his candidacy for President of the United States.  He won twenty-seven primaries and caucuses while refusing all PAC contributions, but his bid did not succeed at the Democratic National Convention.  After the convention he toured the country in support of the Democratic candidates.  Following the Democratic defeat in the 1984 presidential election Gary Hart became the leading Democratic contender for the 1988 presidential nomination.

He decided to retire from the Senate at the end of the 99th Congress and made this announcement on January 4, 1986.  For the next year Hart stood as the leading, though as yet unannounced, candidate until he officially entered the race in Denver on April 13, 1987.  His campaign, however, ended unexpectedly and prematurely amidst allegations of sexual improprieties and a media feeding frenzy.  He withdrew his candidacy on May 15, 1987.  He re-announced his candidacy on December 15, 1987, but the results were not successful and he finally withdrew from the 1988 presidential campaign.    

Senator Hart maintained offices in Washington, D.C. and in Colorado.  Included in the 393 linear feet of papers are files regarding his legislative profile, 1975-1986; his 1974, 1980, 1984 and 1988 campaigns; his Colorado Offices; and his personal office. Also included are the papers from his Washington Office Administration and his press office. Additionally, the collection contains his speeches, schedules, and audiovisual material. His collection has already been checked by many researchers, faculty, and graduate students, including the distinguished scholar, William E. Leuchtenburg.