Republican Trice Harvey, whose bottomless trove of humorous stories about country life made him a popular figure with colleagues in the state Assembly in the 1980s and 1990s, died Tuesday night in his hometown of Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Californian reported.
The paper reported Harvey, 80, died after falling and sustaining a concussion.
Harvey, who was born in Arkansas and had been a county health inspector, began his political career on a local school board, then spent a decade on the Kern County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the Assembly in 1986. His string of 10 straight election victories ended in 1996 when he lost a bid for Congress. He later unsuccessfully ran for county assessor.
“I really want to tell the people of Kern County thanks for giving me so many political opportunities over 24 years," he was quoted in the Californian following that 2006 defeat.
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Harvey also played a role in one of California’s most infamous crimes, the 1963 kidnapping of two Los Angeles policemen, Karl Hettinger and Ian Campbell, by two small-time crooks, who transported them to a field near Bakersfield, where Campbell was killed. Hettinger escaped but was so consumed with guilt that he suffered mental illness, was caught shoplifting and forced off the police force.
The crime and Hettinger’s seemingly bleak fate were chronicled in “The Onion Field,” a book by former Los Angeles policeman Joseph Wambaugh, and a widely acclaimed movie of the same name. However, it had a happier ending.
Hettinger later moved to Kern County and Harvey, then a county supervisor, hired him as an assistant in 1977. When Harvey was elected to the Assembly a decade later, then-Gov. George Deukmejian appointed Hettinger to succeed him as a supervisor and he went on to win another term. He died in 1994.
Harvey’s wife of 56 years, Jacqueline, died in 2012. He is survived by a daughter, Dinah Marquez, and a son, Nick Harvey. Services are pending.