Mike Gravel, Former US Senator for Alaska, Dies at 91

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
June 28, 2021 Updated: June 28, 2021

SEASIDE, Calif.—Mike Gravel, a former U.S. senator from Alaska who read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, has died. He was 91.

Gravel, who represented Alaska as a Democrat in the Senate from 1969 to 1981, died Saturday, according to his daughter, Lynne Mosier. Gravel had been living in Seaside, California, and was in failing health, said Theodore W. Johnson, a former aide.

In 1971, Gravel led a one-man filibuster to protest the Vietnam-era draft and he read into the Congressional Record 4,100 pages of the 7,000-page leaked document known as the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s history of the country’s early involvement in Vietnam.

Gravel reentered national politics decades after his time in the Senate to twice run for president. Gravel, then 75, and his wife, Whitney, took public transportation in 2006 to announce he was running for president as a Democrat in the 2008 election ultimately won by Obama.

Gravel briefly ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Gravel failed to qualify for the debates.

Former Democratic U.S. senator Mike Gravel gestures while talking to “Occupy” activists at Lindenhof square in Zurich, Switzerland, on Oct. 31, 2011. (Keystone, Steffen Schmidt/File/AP Photo)

Gravel was born Maurice Robert Gravel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on May 13, 1930.

In Alaska, he served as a state representative, including a stint as House speaker, in the mid-1960s.

He won his first Senate term after defeating incumbent Sen. Ernest Gruening, a former territorial governor, in the 1968 Democratic primary.

Gravel served two terms until he was defeated in the 1980 Democratic primary by Gruening’s grandson, Clark Gruening, who lost the election to Republican Frank Murkowski.

The Associated Press
The Associated Press