Monday, February 19, 2007

Gravel Article in The Republican

A good feature piece this morning on Mike Gravel appeared in Massachusetts Newspaper, The Republican.

Springfield native has sights set on top job
By JO-ANN MORIARTY (2/19/07)
WASHINGTON - By his own admission, Springfield, Mass., native Mike Gravel has a snowball's chance in Haiti of getting the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

"Oh, I know I'm a longshot," said the now 76-year-old Gravel, born Maurice Robert Gravel to French-Canadian immigrants in the City of Homes, where he attended local schools, was raised Catholic and first got involved in political campaigns as a youngster.

But it is not that is he without qualifications.

He left his hometown after a year in college to join the Army and served overseas in the Counter Intelligence Corps from 1951 to 1954. Returning home, he put himself through Columbia University as a cab driver in New York City before getting into the real estate development business and settling in Alaska.

From 1962 through 1966 - when Springfield Mayor Charles V. Ryan was serving his first term as mayor, Gravel served in the Alaska House of Representatives and was elected House speaker after one term. In a longshot campaign, Gravel unseated a popular incumbent Democrat in the primary. He went on to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968, representing Alaska for two terms (12 years) before he was defeated for re-election to a third term.

He's a classy dresser, sophisticated, pleasant and bright.

In his own words, he is also a maverick.

"He is a major candidate in no one's eyes," said Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "Mike Gravel had a populist career in the Senate but that was a long time ago."

Gravel's U.S. Senate career was brief but memorable.

Gravel, who grew up in a working class family in Springfield's North End in the Round Hill neighborhood which no longer exists, was a tenacious and harsh critic of the Vietnam War.