vision 2020

Gravel ’20 Is Done

Former Alaska Senator and activist-enabler Mike Gravel. Photo: Mike Gravel 2020

One of the odder presidential campaigns ever is sadly coming to an end as the teenager-run Mike Gravel 2020 effort signaled it is shutting down. ABC News has the story:

The campaign is closing up shop sometime in the next week, according to Gravel’s campaign staff, after having missed the first and second Democratic presidential debate stage ⁠— even though they reported meeting the 65,000 donor threshold to qualify for the second debate.

It’s also possible that with the beginning of another school year approaching, Gravel’s people needed to refocus on their studies.

[E]ven though they did not officially make the debate stage, [campaign treasurer Henry] Magowan said he’ll still head into his sophomore year this fall at Columbia University with a marked sense of achievement.

“The fact that we qualified is a success in itself,” Magowan said of the campaign’s milestone in reaching the donor criteria. “Every single person we talked to in the political faction told us we can’t be doing what we’re doing and we weren’t going to make it. But we went to Detroit, we made it into the spin room, we met [DNC Chair] Tom Perez.

Pretty cool for a 19-year-old. Two of his colleagues are staying closer to the fray, reports Politico:

Campaign manager David Oks and chief strategist Henry Williams, whose snarky tweets targeted more moderate 2020 candidates, will move on to a fellowship with the left-leaning Jacobin magazine.

Gravel failed to qualify for the debates as over 20 candidates reached either the polling or donor thresholds, leading the DNC to a tiebreaker favoring candidates who reached both. But yeah, it was all improbable: an 89-year-old former U.S. Senator with a decidedly left-bent take on U.S. foreign policy (dating back to his days as a combative opponent of the Vietnam War and publicist of the Pentagon Papers) turned over his twitter account to a gaggle of teenage activists who made his and their presence felt.

Team Gravel does plan to make a final splash, says ABC:

Gravel’s campaign will now throw their support behind another campaign as they aim to make an endorsement in the “next week or so,” Henry Magowan, the 19-year-old treasurer for the Gravel campaign, told ABC News.

They are currently deciding between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and self-help author Marianne Williamson ⁠— a move which could give whichever campaign is chosen a considerable boost, given the more than 60,000 people who threw their grassroots support behind Gravel since they launched his campaign.

Williamson, you may recall, publicly urged her supporters to help Gravel get over the donor threshold for the debates, and her foreign policy platform is about as radical as his. Gabbard has made non-interventionism the central thrust of her 2020 bid. Sanders has the most left-bent foreign policy position of the candidates who have been doing well, with Warren not too far behind in that respect.

Beyond this year, the Gravel Kidz are talking about creating a Gravel Institute devoted to “ending the American empire,” “reforming our Democracy,” and “direct action by elected officials to end injustice and suffering.” It’s unclear whether it will be a brick-and-mortar organization, or a virtual presence like their presidential campaign, and “empires” are hard things to “end.” But they certainly have the experience to defy expectations.

Gravel ’20 Is Done