Former Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, who ended his presidential campaign last week, has announced his support for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
“I’m proud and honored to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the presidency of the United States,” Gravel said in a video posted on Twitter. “Bernie has a program that benefits all Americans. Not just the 1%.”
"I am proud and honored to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the presidency of the United States." pic.twitter.com/Y7uf8ebbhD
— Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) August 6, 2019
The campaign chose Sanders from a list of four candidates it was considering endorsing, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and self-help author Marianne Williamson.
Gravel, 89, failed to qualify for the first set of Democratic debates in June but did qualify for the second round in Detroit last week. Gravel was not permitted to participate, however, as 21 candidates qualified for only 20 spots on stage, forcing the Democratic National Committee to use tie-breaker rules to determine who got the last podium.
The campaign announced, after Gravel was excluded from the debate, that it would close up shop and transform part of its campaign operations into a new progressive think tank that would support bold left-wing activism.
“The DNC kept us off the stage tonight even though we qualified, but the #Gravelanche is not over,” Gravel wrote on Twitter last week. “We’re gonna keep going. As the campaign ends, we’re going to help build institutions on the left which can grow power, shape policy, and create strong activists for the long haul.”
The campaign said some of the funds raised for the presidential effort will be donated to charity, and the rest will go toward setting up the Gravel Institute to promote the senator’s pacifist priorities that were the centerpiece of his campaign. The Gravel Institute will focus on “ending the American empire” and “reforming our democracy,” while serving to support the bold actions of activists similar to those that defined Gravel’s time in the Senate, such as reading the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record.
The Gravel Institute will write leftist policy papers, with a particular focus on:
– ending the American empire
– reforming our Democracy
– direct action by elected officials to end injustice and
— Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) August 1, 2019
While Gravel’s presidential campaign picked up little steam on the trail and was mostly run by teenagers, his endorsement for Sanders is not insignificant. Gravel still garnered more than 60,000 unique supporters in the race through individual contributions who may now follow Gravel in his backing of Sanders.