Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel has filed with the Federal Election Commission and formed an exploratory committee for a run for president.
The 88-year-old would be the oldest candidate in an increasingly crowded field of Democrats; he’s 11 years older than Sen. Bernie Sanders and will turn 89 in May.
Gravel was in the Alaska House of Representatives when he ran for Senate, beating Sen. Earnest Gruening. He served from 1969 to 1981.
While in office, Gravel was the senator who read the Pentagon Papers into the public record in 1971, in the middle of a Supreme Court case involving the New York Times reporting on the Vietnam War. The Pentagon Papers were a secret Department of Defense study of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam between 1945 to 1967, but by reading them into the record, they immediately became public documents.
Gravel, a Democrat, lost to Clark Gruening in the 1980 primary; Gruening lost to Republican Frank Murkowski. Gravel ran for president in 2008, and also served as CEO of a cannabis company, KUSH, which made a cannabis lozenge known as “Kubby,” (named after a Libertarian who helped draft California Proposition 215 to legalize medical marijuana).
Gravel has launched the simplest of campaign web sites that indicates he wants to have a voice in the 2020 race, so he can say “what establishment candidates won’t” say.
He also has a Twitter handle, where he has plenty of jokes and jabs at fellow Democrat contenders, calling them out by name. A click on the Twitter button on his website brings up a suggested Tweet: “Holy crap Mike Gravel is running https://mikegravel.org #2020election”.
During his 2008 campaign for president, Gravel was something of a media sensation with his sometimes mystifying television ads, such as this one:
Gravel says he hopes to get enough donations in to qualify for the presidential debates, as he did in 2008, and to push the dialogue “leftward.”
At his web site, he describes his progressive intentions further:
“Sen. Gravel is committed to ending America’s imperial policies (especially in Venezuela and Iran), rescheduling cannabis, fundamentally reforming our politics through direct democracy, abolishing mass surveillance on American citizens, prioritizing climate change, dismantling America’s carceral [prison] state, and building a foreign policy free of undue influence by Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
“If he were to run, he would aim not to win, but instead to qualify for the 2020 Democratic debates in order to send a message that no other candidate, not even Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard, is willing to issue. Our goal is to push the rest of the Democratic field toward policies, especially on political reform, climate change, and foreign policy, that, for the first time in decades, will truly challenge the American plutocracy and military-industrial complex.”