When former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska launched his extreme long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination at the beginning of April, he said his only aim was to push the large field of candidates further to the left by making the debate stage.

Now, it appears the 88-year-old Gravel is raising his sights.

He declared on Monday that like other candidates facing a steep climb to reach the White House, “I am running to win. Just as much as Seth Moulton, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, or Eric Swalwell are.”


Gravel’s campaign said the candidate’s now “in it to win it” due to what they characterized as “such a strong reaction—repeatedly beating Kirsten Gillibrand, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, and Seth Moulton in polls.”

Pushing back against the perception that his campaign wasn’t being given its due, Gravel explained in an email to supporters that “I have heard chatter that our efforts do not amount to a ‘serious campaign’ because we intend to drop out after the debates. I am confused. In many ways, I find our campaign to be, perhaps, the only serious campaign that’s running.”

Despite his claims of momentum, Gravel is barely registering in most recent polls, though a recent straw poll of members of a liberal PAC reportedly showed Gravel pacing just behind California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Gravel, who turns 89 next month, served two terms representing Alaska in the Senate, from 1969-1981.

In his 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, he won only 400 votes out of some 280,000 cast in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. He fared no better in subsequent primaries and caucuses. He later switched to the Libertarian Party but was eliminated in their nominating process for president.