Long-shot Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Gravel -- an 89-year-old former Senator from Alaska whose quirky campaign is spearheaded by a group of teenagers running his feisty Twitter account -- is about to call it quits.
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.
With 21 candidates who met either the donor or polling criteria but only 20 spots, the DNC was prompted to use its tiebreaker rules which gave preference to candidates who met the polling threshold versus those who solely qualified via donors, leaving Gravel out of the mix.
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.
“Those are all names themselves we’ve come to appreciate during this primary campaign, and having seen their performances in the most recent debates, the Senator has great admiration for them and is considering throwing his support behind any number of them,” Magowan said.
And while the campaign may be coming to an end, the teens running the campaign already have their eyes set on another related venture: The Gravel Institute.
The Gravel Institute, campaign staffers said, will be a “leftist think tank” which will focus on “ending the American empire,” “reforming our Democracy,” and “direct action by elected officials to end injustice and suffering.”
On Gravel's Twitter feed, the staffers offered a glimpse into the types of action they foresee the institute calling for.
“As an example, the Chair of House Oversight could subpoena every migrant in detention -- throwing a massive wrench in an inhuman and decrepit immigration machine and single handedly forcing change,” the campaign tweeted.
The central mission of Gravel’s candidacy was to push the Democratic Party far to the left -- especially on foreign policy -- and to advocate for a “legislature of the people.”
And even though they did not officially make the debate stage, 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. Our support and our success is easily quantifiable while other candidates you saw on the stage are struggling to get traction.”
Magowan made directly cited candidates such as Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who have less social media following but made the stage because of polling criteria.
“Delaney spends millions just to get where we are in our social media reach," Magowan told ABC News. "They’re wasting millions trying to do what we’ve been able to do as a couple of kids. I think what the Senator always says is we should judge nations in society by how they treat the oldest generation and the youngest generation,” he said. Though Magowan said their campaign “hasn’t particularly been treated well," he believes their “authentic message continues to resonate among thousands of Americans.”
The campaign plans to donate their remaining funds to charity, and after the second debate which Oks and Williams attended in Detroit, Michigan, is looking at organizations which “ensure clean water to Flint.”