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Mike Gravel--maybe you recall him--switches parties and few care

March 25, 2008 | 11:12 pm

You won't want to go to bed tonight without knowing this:

Mike Gravel, the former senator from Alaska whose campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in recent months was virtually invisible and free of any impact whaFormer Alaska Democratic Senator Mike Gravel and ex-presidential candidate in happier days before he announced his switch to the Libertarian Party March 25, 2008tsoever, has packed up his political bags and taken them to the Libertarian Party.

According to the website Third Party Watch, which as you might expect watches third parties, Shane Cory, executive director of the Libertarian Party, confirmed tonight that Gravel was switching parties and that a formal announcement would be made within hours and immediately ignored by most Americans.

A statement elsewhere on the same website quoted Gravel as saying, "I'm joining the Libertarian Party because it is a party that combines a commitment to freedom and peace that can't be found in the two major parties that control the government and politics of America.

"My libertarian views, as well as my strong stance against the war, the military-industrial complex and American imperialism, seem not to be tolerated by Democratic Party elites who are out of touch with the average American."

Just 11 days ago Gravel announced his endorsement of Green Party candidate Jesse Johnson for president.

The campaigns of John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul and Barack Obama were obviously caught by surprise tonight and so stunned by the party-switch announcement that they issued no immediate responses.

The Third Party website also quoted another almost-forgotten politician, former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, who has joined the Libertarian Party virtually without notice as well, as welcoming Gravel and noting, "I too concluded Republicans had lost their core principles, and could no longer associate myself with the GOP."

Meanwhile, Gravel's old Democratic presidential campaign website still seemed to be accepting donations in case you feel like helping out. "My campaign," its homepage says, "has never needed you more than now."

-- Andrew Malcolm