The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

Thomas Ravenel officially on Senate ballot in SC

08/06/2014 9:11 PM

08/06/2014 9:11 PM

Onetime Republican Thomas Ravenel officially is running for the U.S. Senate again, this time as a petition candidate.

The S.C. Election Commission certified the 10,000 signatures required for the former S.C. treasurer and reality TV star to be on the ballot in November as a challenger for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

The other candidates for that seat are Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg and Libertarian Victor Kocher of Columbia.

Ravenel, 51, ran for the Senate in 2004, finishing third in a GOP primary for the seat won eventually by then-U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint of Greenville.

Ravenel, a Charleston developer and son of former U.S. Rep. Arthur Ravenel, has said he plans to make a “serious financial commitment” to his bid for the federal office. A decade ago, he spent about $3 million of his own money to finance his Senate campaign.

While money may not be a challenge for Ravenel in the race, his past could be.

Ravenel was state treasurer for about six months in 2007, when he was indicted on federal cocaine charges. He entered a guilty plea and resigned, serving 10 months in prison.

Ravenel, elected to statewide office as a Republican, emerged from prison espousing far more libertarian beliefs, including opposing foreign interventions and legalizing drugs.

He also stayed in the headlines, not always drawing positive publicity. Last year, for example, he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in the Hamptons in New York. His driver’s license was suspended for six months.

Earlier this year, Ravenel gained national notoriety as one of the stars of Bravo’s “Southern Charm” reality show. He and Kathryn Dennis, his 23-year-old girlfriend and “Southern Charm” co-star, also had a daughter.

Graham declined to say Wednesday whether he would take part in a debate involving Ravenel, the Post and Courier of Charleston reported. Graham also would not say whether he envisioned himself being on a stage with a convicted drug felon. “I envision seeing myself taking the oath of office in January,” he said.

A recent poll, conducted on behalf of the Post and Courier and three S.C. TV stations, found 45 percent of 650 likely S.C. voters would support Graham. Democrat Hutto was favored by 33 percent, Ravenel by 10 percent, Libertarian Kocher by 4 percent and 8 percent were undecided.

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