Former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, 77, returned from oblivion to a momentary spot on the national stage when he announced March 26, 2008, that he had joined the Libertarian Party. But the central question of his candidacy — is it one? — remained.
Earlier that month he put a video on YouTube complaining that the site's YouChoose page no longer featured him. "Apparently I've been relegated to a footnote at YouTube," Gravel says in the video. "I'm one of three candidates in the presidential race, Obama, Hillary and myself. I am a candidate. I have not withdrawn."
PolitiFact set out to confirm Gravel's status. We started by checking to see if Gravel was on the ballot in any of the upcoming Democratic nominating contests. Some state officials had no idea who we were asking about.
"Could you spell that?" asked Bowen Greenwood, communications director for the secretary of state of Montana (primary, June 3). Greenwood went to check and came back with: "The elections folks tell me they've never heard of him. I confess, I've never heard of him either."
West Virginia (May 13) had not heard from him. Neither had South Dakota (June 3). Puerto Rico (June 1) was finalizing its candidate list, but didn't expect Gravel to be on it.
And in Guam (May 3), Tony Charfauros, chairman of the Democratic Party, said: "Are you talking about Mike Gravel who used to be a candidate for president?"
Gravel told us he's on the ballot in North Carolina (May 6) and Oregon (May 20). Turns out he is confirmed for the North Carolina primary, but not Oregon.
Scott Moore, chief of communications for the Oregon secretary of state, told us they would have been happy to put Gravel on the ballot, but his campaign never filed the paperwork.
He's also not on the ballot in Pennsylvania (April 22), Indiana (May 6) or Kentucky (May 20).
Adding it all up, Gravel is on the ballot in just one of the 10 remaining contests.
We also determined that Gravel has zero delegates, virtually no fundraising and a campaign staff that amounts to "the better part of about a half dozen people," according to deputy campaign manager Jon Kraus.
So, is Gravel still a candidate?
He is. Just not for the Democrats.
Gravel said he "has pretty much had it" with the Democrats and thinks they have cut their ties to him. Yet he's intent on being on the November ballot one way or another.
In fact, he hopes to seal the deal in Denver. But not at the Democratic convention.
At the Libertarian convention — May 22-26, 2008.
"Right now he's actively pursuing the Libertarian nomination," Kraus said.
Despite the fact that no one will believe us, we find Gravel is actively pursuing a presidential nomination in 2008, albeit with the Libertarians since he has exhausted his chances as a Democrat. So his statement, while possibly delusional, is totally True.
Libertarian Party, Events calendar
North Carolina state board of elections, List of candidates for the presidential primary ballot, March 4, 2008
Indiana secretary of state, Letter certifying candidates for the presidential primary election, Feb. 28, 2008
Kentucky secretary of state, Sample ballot for presidential primary
Montana secretary of state, 2008 candidate filing list
Opensecrets.org, Mike Gravel's fundraising numbers
Opensecrets.org, Barack Obama's fundraising numbers
Associated Press delegate count, March 26, 2008
Interview with Sen. Mike Gravel, March 25, 2008
Interview with Jon Kraus, Gravel's deputy campaign manager, March 25, 2008
Interview with Massie Ritch, Center for Responsive Politics communications director, March 25, 2008
Interview with George Smaragdis, Federal Election Commission spokesman, March 25, 2008
Interview with Sarah Bailey, deputy secretary of state and director of communications for West Virginia, March 25, 2008
Interview with Tony Charfauros, chairman of the Democratic Party of Guam, March 25, 2008
Interview with Rebecca Halton, Pennsylvania state department spokesman, March 24, 2008
Interview with Scott Moore, chief of communications for Oregon secretary of state, March 24, 2008
Interview through translator with Walter Velez, secretary of the Puerto Rico elections commission, March 24, 2008
Interview with Bowen Greenwood, communications director for Montana secretary of state, March 24, 2008
Interview with Chris Nelson, secretary of state of South Dakota, March 24, 2008
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