Mike Gravel cover

photo credits: CC-BY-SA-4.0

Mike Gravel

American politician; United States Senator

1930   -  

country of citizenship: United States of America
language of expression: English
educated at: American International College, Assumption College, Columbia University School of Engineering
occupation: politician, stockbroker, businessperson, writer
position held: United States senator

Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel (; born May 13, 1930) is an American politician who served as a United States Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he ran for president in the 2008 election and in the 2020 election. Born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, by French-Canadian immigrant parents, Gravel served in the U.S. Army in West Germany, and later graduated from the Columbia University School of General Studies. He moved to Alaska in the late 1950s, becoming a real estate developer and entering politics. He served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1963 to 1966 and also became Speaker of the Alaska House. Gravel was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968. As a senator, Gravel became nationally known for his forceful but unsuccessful attempts to end the draft during the War in Vietnam and for putting the Pentagon Papers into the public record in 1971 at some risk to himself. He conducted an unusual campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1972 for Vice President of the United States, and then played a crucial role in obtaining Congressional approval for the Trans-Alaska pipeline in 1973. He was reelected to the Senate in 1974, but gradually alienated his Alaskan constituents, and his bid for a third term was defeated in a primary election in 1980. Gravel returned to business ventures and went through difficult times, suffering corporate and personal bankruptcies amid poor health. He has been an advocate of direct democracy and the National Initiative. In 2006 Gravel began a run for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States to promote those ideas. His campaign gained an Internet following and national attention due to forceful, humorous, and politically unorthodox debate appearances during 2007, but he found very little support in national polls or the 2008 caucuses and primaries. In March 2008 he left the Democratic Party and joined the Libertarian Party to compete for its presidential nomination and the inclusion of the National Initiative into the Libertarian Platform. At the Libertarian National Convention of 2008 he failed on both counts. He subsequently became an executive for a marijuana products company and continued to speak out about various political issues and candidates. Gravel ran for president again in the 2020 election, in a campaign designed as a democratic project rather than with the intent to win. He was unable to qualify for any of the Democratic Party debates in 2019 and his campaign ended four months after it began.
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