The 89-year-old ex-senator whose presidential run was notable for salty leftist tweets quit the race and endorsed Bernie Sanders

Mike GravelMike Gravel in 2007.AP Photo/Jim Cole

  • Former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, who ran a leftist anti-war protest campaign for president managed by four teens from New York, has officially dropped out of the race and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Gravel, who is 89 years old and served in the US senate from 1969 to 1981, was drafted to run for president in March by three leftist teens who attended high school together in Westchester, New York.
  • After Gravel missed the debate stage in July despite meeting the grassroots fundraising requirement, the teens announced they would end the campaign and donate remaining funds to charity.
  • In endorsing Sanders, Gravel said, "We have a simple choice: we can have the Democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders to benefit all Americans, or we can have Republican socialism which benefits the 1% and leads us to a constant state of war." 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, who ran a leftist anti-war protest campaign for president managed by four teens from New York, has officially dropped out of the race and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders

Gravel, who is 89 years old and served in the US senate from 1969 to 1981, was drafted to run for president in March by three leftist teens who attended high school together in Westchester, New York.

The three core organizers, campaign manager David Oks, chief strategist Henry Williams, and director of operations Elijah Emery, became known as "the Gravel teens," and gained steam by running Gravel's campaign almost entirely on Twitter - and coming up with punchy, eyebrow-raising insults for other candidates.

The teens had one objective: to get Gravel on the debate stage in the June and July DNC primary debates. In order to make the stage, candidates either had to reach 1% in three DNC-approved polls or secure 65,000 unique donors from 20 states. 

Read more: Mike Gravel's progressive, anti-war presidential campaign is being run by three teens on social media

With Gravel not being able to maintain the vigorous campaign schedule required to meet the polling requirement, the teens set their sites on social media, using their rapidly growing Twitter following and Facebook ads to recruit leftist donors.

Even after earning 65,000 donors, Gravel narrowly missed the stage due to 20 candidates - the maximum number who could qualify - meeting the polling requirement, which the DNC prioritized over fundraising.

After Gravel failed to make the stage, the teens announced that they planned to wrap up the campaign and donate the rest of their donations to charity. 

 

In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday morning, Gravel announced he would endorse Sanders, saying, "Bernie will be a great president for all Americans. We have a simple choice: we can have the Democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders to benefit all Americans, or we can have Republican socialism which benefits the 1% and leads us to a constant state of war." 

In a May interview with INSIDER, Williams said the campaign was inspired by Sanders making positions like Medicare for All and debt-free college mainstream in the Democratic party and wanted to similarly push the party left on issues including military non-interventionism and decriminalizing sex work. 

Read more: Marianne Williamson helped a protest candidate get a surge of campaign donations to aid him in qualifying for the next debates

"My dream is to transfer all our political momentum behind one candidate, probably Bernie Sanders, and to get Bernie to adopt a plank to his policy platform regarding non-interventionism or cutting the military budget, opposing the criminalization of sex work, just one or two," he said. 

As for what's next for the teens, Williams and Oks will continue their fiery online presence as social media fellows for Jacobin, a socialist magazine. The organizers behind the campaign also plan to start the Gravel institute, a leftist think-tank that will advocate for issues including democracy reform and "ending the American empire." 

Read more: 

Democratic primary voters believe polling should hold more weight than fundraising in determining which candidates should be in DNC debates

The 2020 presidential election could come down to college students and that could be trouble for Trump

The top 10 qualities that US voters want most in a presidential candidate, according to a new INSIDER poll

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