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'The Front Runner': What Happened to Donna Rice after the Gary Hart Scandal?

By Dustin Rowles | Film | November 23, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | November 23, 2018 |


I didn’t much care for Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, which tracks the sexual infidelities that undid Senator Gary Hart’s 1988 bid for President. It is a dramatically inert film that feels painfully divorced from our current political climate. Mostly, however, it’s kind of dull.

One thing I did appreciate about the film, however, was the way in which director Jason Reitman depicted Donna Rice, the woman with whom Gary Hart had an alleged affair. Reitman takes pains to present her as a human being rather than a two-dimensional mistress — we see how the affair affected her, and how it upended her life. By the end of the film, Donna Rice is the only person with whom most moviegoers have any sympathy.

Naturally, I wanted to find out what Donna Rice — now Donna Hughes, age 60 — is up to today. She also felt that Reitman’s film treated her with compassion, as she told People magazine: “It’s been 31 years, but as a 60-year-old grandmother watching it on film now, I was moved with great compassion for the 29-year-old person that was me. I appreciate how Jason (Reitman, director) treated my character with compassion and dignity.”

Not that she was completely satisfied with the film, if only because it’s Gary Hart’s story, and not hers. She’s promised a tell-all book from her perspective, as she tells The Examiner.

The Front Runner is Senator Hart’s story, not mine. I am now at a point in my life where I believe it is the right time to share my life’s journey, in my words and in my way.” Give the lukewarm reception of The Front Runner, I’m not sure how excited anyone would be to read that tell-all, but I hope she gets her story out.

As for her life since 1988? She’s been married to Jack Hughes for 25 years. She has two grown stepchildren and three grandchildren. She also became an activist, founding the group Enough is Enough, which seeks to make the Internet safer for families (but mostly, keep kids away from online porn). She’s also advocated against Teen Vogue for promoting sexual activity in teens, and she’s a big proponent of Abstinence Education.

Indeed, Rice is a self-professed Conservative Christian. She even spread conspiracy theories about Christine Ford.

She also voted for Trump, and she did so precisely because he would nominate candidates like Brett Kavanaugh. From Fox News:

When I met Mr. Trump two years ago at CPAC, he was a kind and gracious gentlemen. He applauded me in front of a crowd of people for taking the high road during the 1987 presidential scandal. He had not yet announced his presidency, but he told me that he had to run.

I immediately saw his passion for America, the conviction in his eyes, and a fire in his belly that was driving him to run in spite of the cost.

God is in the business of using flawed people who He humbled and molded into great leaders.

And I’m out.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Getty