Mike Gravel is a former U.S. senator from Alaska and a long-shot candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. He’s also the unlikely cause of choice for a New Hampshire hedge fund manager, who is doing all he can to power Gravel to victory in his state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
Gregory Chase has poured about $100,000 into the effort, which is unaffiliated with Gravel’s campaign. The money has bought full-page ads in New Hampshire newspapers, brochures sent to homes in Chase’s hometown of Nashua, as well as yard signs and bumper stickers.
Chase, of course, is not the only hedge fund manager with skin in the presidential game; all of the leading candidates on both the Democratic and Republican side have received buckets of hedge fund money from some high-profile hedge fund names. But he may be the only one to so prominently attach his name to a campaign as quixotic as that of Gravel.
The 27-year-old Chase, a former oil and foreign exchange trader, credits Gravel’s strong stand on reducing the U.S.’s dependence on foreign oil and investing in alternate fuel sources for his decision to support the candidate. Annoyed by Gravel’s continued anonymity in a race dominated by the likes of Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Chase has offered to give much more.
Gravel has been excluded from an upcoming NBC-sponsored debate because he has failed to meet polling and fundraising requirements; he has raised only $272,000 through the end of September. By contrast, Clinton has raised in excess of $90 million and Obama more than $80 million.
And so, Chase offered to buy $1 million in advertising on NBC in exchange for allowing Gravel to participate. NBC, predictably, has not responded to the suggestion.