Mike Gravel 2020 presidential campaign

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Mike Gravel 2020 presidential campaign
Gravel Mg web logo line two color.svg
Campaign2020 United States presidential election (Democratic primaries)
CandidateMike Gravel
U.S. Senator from Alaska (1969–1981)
Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives (1965–1967)
Member of the Alaska House of Representatives (1963–1967)
AffiliationDemocratic Party
StatusExploratory committee formed: March 19, 2019

Announced: April 2, 2019

Formal announcement: April 8, 2019
HeadquartersArdsley, New York
Key peopleDavid Oks (campaign manager)
Henry Williams (chief of staff)
Henry Magowan (treasurer)[1]
SloganNo More Wars

The 2020 presidential campaign of Mike Gravel, former U.S. Senator from Alaska, began on March 19, 2019 with the formation of an exploratory committee,[2] followed on April 2, 2019 with his campaign filing with the Federal Elections Commission to officially run for the presidency.[3][4] Gravel's initial intention was not to win the nomination, but rather to inject his platform into the conversation so that his ideas become part of the mainstream,[5] though he announced on April 29, 2019 that he is "running to win."[6]

The campaign is also notable for its young leadership; manager David Oks and chief of staff Henry Williams are only 18 years old.[7]

As of June 6, 2019, the campaign has over 80 staff members, all volunteers,[8] and has raised over $141,602 in donations.[9]


Gravel has served in the U.S. Senate representing the state of Alaska from 1969 to 1981, as well as the Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives from 1965 to 1967.

He gained national attention during his tenure in the Senate for his strong anti-war beliefs, specifically against the War in Vietnam. He garnered significant media attention by reading previously unreleased segments of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record given to him by prominent democratic socialists Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, making them public knowledge via a loophole discovered by Daniel Ellsberg.

Gravel's presidential bid is his second, following his 2008 campaign for president. He was noted by pundits for his debate performances.[10] However, he never reached significant polling numbers.[citation needed]

On March 11, 2019, a discussion about Gravel came up on the 323rd episode of the leftist comedy podcast Chapo Trap House, "The Unsullied", where one of the hosts, Felix Biederman, claimed "Mike Gravel is the only politician I ever felt, like, represented me."[11] Three days later, David Oks, a high school senior, and Henry Williams, a college freshman, both avid listeners of Chapo Trap House, persuaded the former senator to run for president through a phone call and assured him he would not travel too much.[12][13][14] On March 20, the r/Gravelforpresident subreddit would be created and Williams' account 'u/Gravelanche' (in reference to the portmanteau often used by Gravel's campaign manager and supporters to nickname the campaign)[15] would be added as moderator.[16][17][better source needed]


Gravel first entered the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries on March 19, 2019 by forming an exploratory committee.[2] Late that day, Gravel's campaign posted on Twitter that he was not entering the campaign to win, rather to bring anti-war ideas to the Democratic debate stage, as well as that there would be a formal announcement in the coming days.[18]

His Twitter account was run by Oks and Williams who became the campaign manager and chief of staff, respectively.[13] They posted attacks on other Democratic presidential candidates and potential candidates Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and Pete Buttigieg[19][20] while praising fellow candidates Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard,[21] even when Gravel urged them not to make personal attacks and rather focus on policy critiques.[13]

On April 2, 2019, Gravel's exploratory committee filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to officially run for the presidency.[3][4] The campaign was announced on April 8 alongside Gravel's platform.[22] That same day, the Mike Gravel YouTube channel posted a sequel to the viral[23] "Rock" ad from Gravel's 2008 campaign with "Rock 2.0".[24] On April 29th, an email announcement went out stating that Gravel would now be running to win "[j]ust as much as Seth Moulton, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, or Eric Swalwell are."[6]

In June 2019, Gravel touted the endorsement of Muntadher al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who, in December 2008, made headlines after he threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in protest of the U.S. war in Iraq. Al-Zaidi endorsed Gravel based on his promise to improve White House policies regarding Iraq and the Middle East.[25]

On June 13, 2019, the Democratic Party announced the 20 major candidates who qualified for the first debate later that month. Gravel was one of the four who missed out (the others were Montana Governor Steve Bullock, U.S. Representative Seth Moulton, and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam).[26] He had failed to get the requisite number of donations or to score one percent or better in enough polls; indeed he failed to reach that threshold in any poll, many of which did not include him.[27] Nevertheless Gravel said he would not drop out and would try to qualify for the July debate.[28]

Political positions[edit]

The campaign's platform was released on April 7 to coincide with the campaign launch.[22] It was released as a live Google Doc and the campaign asked for requests for amendments via Twitter.[29] In response to the Black Socialists of America, Gravel self-describes as someone who supports "us moving towards a society where the workers control the means of production in a democratic and decentralized fashion".[30]

Civil rights[edit]

The campaign seeks to reduce the number of intelligence agencies from 17, including the abolition of the National Security Agency, as well as a U.S. withdrawal from the Five Eyes network, the ending of the PRISM surveillance program, and repealing of the Patriot Act and the Espionage Act. The campaign views many of these programs and organizations to be a 'trampling' of Americans' civil rights "in the rush to enhance security following 9/11". Whistleblowers Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, John C. Kiriakou, Julian Assange, Reality Winner, and Terry Albury would be given pardons and some would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The campaign also focuses on "full equality for all of America's LGBTQIA+ people, with a special focus on transgender rights." This includes an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the addition of a ban on discrimination due to "sexual orientation and/or gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, and credit", honoring transgender rights activist Marsha P. Johnson and author James Baldwin with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, banning conversion therapy nationwide and making the operation of a conversion therapy clinic a crime.[31][better source needed]

Foreign policy[edit]

Gravel's campaign is based around bringing a critique of American imperialism and general American foreign policy to the Democratic debate stage.[32] Foreign policy would include:[31]

Political reform[edit]

The campaign wants to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a system of direct election. The platform stated it was because "[it] has been responsible for two Presidents within the last three winning an election without winning a majority of the votes", referring to the 2000 election of George W. Bush and the 2016 election of Donald Trump, and also because it "was a tool originally created to suppress democracy; historically, it has empowered slavers and segregationists." The campaign also states it "distorts democracy" by giving weight to voters like Floridian Cuban-Americans and Iowan farmers and reducing the weight of voters in cities.[31] The campaign also wants to put all elections under Congressional oversight, citing "restrictive" voter ID laws and the voter fraud in the 2018 election of Representative Mark Harris in North Carolina,[33][34] as well as registering all U.S. citizens for voting once they turn 18, instituting national ranked choice voting, adopting the Wyoming Rule, and passing an amendment that would make the voting power of a state's senators proportional to the state's population. The campaign also wants a 12-year term limit for Supreme Court justices.[31]

Media coverage[edit]

Coverage of the campaign has been limited largely to online and print journalism. Interviews with Gravel and Williams appeared in a segment of the April 18, 2019 episode of Vice News Tonight.[35] On April 10, 2019, a piece entitled "Mike Gravel's Plan to Rock the Democratic Primary" appeared in The Atlantic.[36] A long profile of the campaign as well as Oks and Williams appeared in the June 9, 2019 issue of The New York Times Magazine.[37]

Articles regarding the campaign have appeared in Splinter News,[38] Vox,[39] Rolling Stone,[40], and Politico.[41]

Additionally, Gravel has discussed his candidacy in television news interviews. On June 10, 2019, he appeared on CBS News and related how he gave Oks and Williams his Twitter account, while they gave him "veto power, which I've only exercised once, by warning them about rough language."[42] In the same interview, he also praised Oks and Williams and called them "unbelievably precocious."[42]


Mike Gravel's exploratory committee was immediately met with allegations of Gravel being a 9/11 truther,[43] having called for a new investigation into the 9/11 attacks in 2011.[44] He has also allegedly associated with known antisemites and Holocaust deniers, including attending conferences sponsored by Lyndon LaRouche and appearing on the podcast of Kevin Barrett.[45] The Gravel campaign replied to these reports stating that Gravel had appeared on these mediums for the sake of getting exposure of his ideas to as many people as possible, and noted Gravel himself had not made any of these statements, as well as the influence American Jews had on Gravel's political ideology.[45]


  1. ^ "Form 1 for Committee for Peace, Justice, and Mike Gravel". Federal Election Commission. FEC. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Mike Gravel for President Exploratory Committee" (PDF). FEC.gov. March 19, 2019. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Gravel, Mike [@MikeGravel] (April 2, 2019). "It. Is. On. Sen. Mike Gravel has officially filed to run for president. Our only aim is pushing the field left by appearing in the Democratic debates. Donate as little as you like, but help us get to the necessary 65k donors! Official launch is April 8" (Tweet). Retrieved April 3, 2019 – via Twitter.
  4. ^ a b "Statement of Candidacy" (PDF). docquery.fec.gov. 2019.
  5. ^ Axelrod, Tal (April 4, 2019). "Mike Gravel announces run for president to get into debates, not to win". The Hill. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Mike Gravel: "I'm Running to Win"". April 29, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  7. ^ Keiles, Jamie Lauren (June 6, 2019). "Are These Teenagers Really Running a Presidential Campaign? Yes. (Maybe.)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  8. ^ Keiles, Jamie Lauren (June 6, 2019). "Are These Teenagers Really Running a Presidential Campaign? Yes. (Maybe.)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Get Mike Gravel to the debates!". ActBlue. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Nichols, John (March 27, 2008). "Mike Gravel: Libertarian for President". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  11. ^ 296 – The Unsullied (3/11/19), retrieved April 16, 2019
  12. ^ Montellaro, Zach (March 20, 2019). "'Do you know how old I am?': Teens draft Gravel to run for president". Politico. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c Graham, David (April 10, 2019). "Mike Gravel's Plan to Rock the Democratic Primary". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  14. ^ Bort, Ryan; Bort, Ryan (March 20, 2019). "88-Year-Old Mike Gravel Is the Latest Teen Sensation". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  15. ^ "'Gravelanche': Anti-war ex-Senator with teen campaign managers is making a splash in 2020 race". RT International. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  16. ^ "moderators – r/gravelforpresident". old.reddit.com. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  17. ^ "How extremely online are the Gravel staff? Well they read this". reddit. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  18. ^ @MikeGravel (March 19, 2019). "I am considering running in the 2020 Democratic primary. The goal will not be to win, but to bring a critique of American imperialism to the Democratic debate stage. The website (mikegravel.org ) is under construction. Official announcement will be in the coming days" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ @MikeGravel (March 19, 2019). "The 2020 Democratic field pretends to progressivism, but don't buy the lie. @KamalaHarris kept innocent men on death row. @JoeBiden voted for the Iraq War. @CoryBooker invented a drug dealer friend (and voted with Big Pharma)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ @MikeGravel (April 5, 2019). "if you think that the candidate to beat a president who won campaigning against a careerist, self-serving elite that literally 90 percent of the country despises is Buttigieg, the literal embodiment of that elite, honestly you couldn't win a third grade class president election" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ @MikeGravel (March 19, 2019). "If I run, I'd run not to win, but to push great candidates like @BernieSanders and @TulsiGabbard toward more sensible views on political reform and foreign policy through the debates. We need a strong left flank for strong policy" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ a b Schmidt, Ann (April 8, 2019). "Mike Gravel kicks off 'losing 2020 presidential campaign' with ad, platform release". Fox News. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  23. ^ Tozzi, Lisa (June 18, 2007). "Mike Gravel: Behind the Music". The Caucus. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  24. ^ Mike Gravel 2020 (April 8, 2019), Rock 2.0 – Mike Gravel 2020, retrieved April 16, 2019
  25. ^ Resnick, Gideon (June 7, 2019). "Mike Gravel Touts Endorsement From Iraqi Journalist Who Threw Shoes at George W. Bush". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  26. ^ Joung, Madeleine (June 13, 2019). "Here Are the 20 Candidates Who Qualified for the 2020 Democratic Debates". Time.
  27. ^ Skelley, Geoffrey (June 12, 2019). "The First Democratic Debate Deadline Has Passed: Who's In And Who's Out". FiveThirtyEight. Updated June 13, 2019.
  28. ^ https://www.bing.com/amp/s/www.washingtonexaminer.com%2fnews%2fmike-gravel-says-he-will-continue-his-presidential-campaign-after-not-making-the-debate-stage%3f_amp%3dtrue
  29. ^ Gravel, Mike (April 7, 2019). "We are proud to present to you Draft 3.2 of the Gravel 2020 Platform. This is the front end – revisions are still being made! Please share any comments or suggestions you have with us via tweet – anything you'd like to see included in the platform.https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-z5dDCUEfZZaaaXsus19a8mF8DOkxm90mpbQWAqaI_Y/edit?ts=5caa9f08# …". @MikeGravel. Retrieved April 16, 2019. External link in |title= (help)
  30. ^ Gravel, Mike (April 10, 2019). ""Yes."pic.twitter.com/Yg1cF6IGCY". @MikeGravel. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  31. ^ a b c d "Gravel 2020 Platform". Google Docs. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  32. ^ "Welcome – Mike Gravel 2020 – End the American Empire". Mike Gravel 2020. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  33. ^ Harry Enten. "Why the case for election fraud in North Carolina is strong". CNN. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  34. ^ Scott, Dylan (December 28, 2018). "Court dissolves North Carolina elections board with election fraud scandal still under investigation". Vox. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  35. ^ McMorris-Santoro, Evan (NaN undefined NaN). "The weirdest 2020 story involves several teens and an 88-year-old former senator". Vice News. Retrieved 7 June 2019. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  36. ^ Graham, David A. (April 10, 2019). "Mike Gravel's Plan to Rock the Democratic Primary". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  37. ^ Keiles, Jamie Lauren (June 6, 2019). "Are These Teenagers Really Running a Presidential Campaign? Yes. (Maybe.)". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  38. ^ Crosbie, Jack. "Mike Gravel Launches Only Fun 2020 Campaign to Date". Splinter. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  39. ^ Scott, Dylan (May 27, 2019). "Mike Gravel, 2020's oddest Democratic presidential candidate, explained". Vox. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  40. ^ Stuart, Tessa (April 8, 2019). "The Teens Have Officially Convinced Mike Gravel to Run for President". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  41. ^ Montellaro, Zach. "'Do you know how old I am?': Teens draft Gravel to run for president". POLITICO. Retrieved June 7, 2019.
  42. ^ a b Montoya-Galvez, Camilo. ""It's been their show": Mike Gravel credits pair of teens for running 2020 campaign". www.cbsnews.com. CBS News. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  43. ^ Cheadle, Harry; Cheadle, Harry (March 21, 2019). "Left-Wing Teens Are Promoting a 9/11 Truther for President". Vice. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  44. ^ 9/11 Interview: Senator Mike Gravel, Part 2 | CPT12 Presents, retrieved April 5, 2019
  45. ^ a b "Mike Gravel's Unseemly Associations With Antisemites". The Jewish Worker. March 20, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2019.