In 1987, then-Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) and then-Rep. John Rowland (R-Conn.), were making headlines. Eighteen years later, they both have resurfaced in the political arena.
Hart, a strong contender for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, fell from grace when two reporters caught him having an extramarital affair with a young model named Donna Rice. Hart immediately withdrew from the race after the May incident, only to return later that year, saying he wanted to “let the people decide” his political fate.
Many of Hart’s colleagues disagreed with his decision to re-enter the race in December. Roll Call reported that Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said: “This is the worst new idea of 1987.”
And, then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Paul Kirk added, “As my football coach used to say, ‘When you take a hit, take it and go.’”
Today, Hart is in the news, but now as co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century and the Council on Foreign Relations task force on homeland security.
For Rowland, the arc was reversed. At age 29, he was featured in Roll Call as the youngest Member of Congress. The Connecticut Republican said he wasn’t fazed about being “young enough to be a son of the average house Member who is more than 50 years old.”
“Many of my colleagues’ families are grown. They don’t understand the challenges of bringing up a family in the 1980s. I consider myself representative of the average family trying to pay the mortgage and maybe bring up two or three kids and improve the quality of their life,” Rowland said.
Rowland went on to become the governor of Connecticut in 1994 and was re-elected in 1998 and 2002. But in the summer of 2004, Rowland resigned after it was discovered that he accepted high-priced gifts, totaling more than $100,000, from state contractors and gubernatorial aides. The money was put toward a Mustang convertible, private flights, vacations and improvements to his cottage, such as a new kitchen and hot tub.
Rowland pleaded guilty to federal corruption, and his official prison sentence of 15 to 21 months begins in March. [IMGCAP(1)]