Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel says he's got the required petition to run for the United States Senate.
Tuesday, Ravenel presented to the South Carolina Election Commission what he says are 17,000 collected signatures, far more than the 10,000 required to be on November's ballot. The commission will now verify the results. If it's approved, Ravenel would join incumbent Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Democrat Brad Hutto and Libertarian Victor Kocher in the contest.
Ravenel, who announced his decision to run on July 4th, has been a consistent and sharp critic of Graham, attacking the two-term senator's fiscal record and foreign policy stands. Though he's identified as a Republican during his career, Ravenel choose not to run in the party's primary race for in June.
During that contest, Graham beat back a challenge from six other Republicans to win the race outright without a runoff.
The son of longtime South Carolina politician Arthur Ravenel and one of the most prominent families in the Lowcountry, Ravenel seemed destined to follow his father into politics. In 2004, he ran for the U.S. Senate, finishing second in the GOP primary to eventual U.S. Senator Jim DeMint. Two years later, he won statewide office as treasurer.
However, he resigned just months later after he was indicted a federal drug charge. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Since his release, he returned to the business world. But earlier this year, Ravenel became a cast-member of the reality-show "Southern Charm" airing on the Bravo Network. He also saw the birth of his first child to his girlfriend and fellow cast-member on the show.
Ravenel has said he doe snot intend to appear in a potential second season of the program.
The South Carolina Republican Party issued a scathing statement on Ravenel's decision.
"We doubt many voters will be interested in a convicted felon who renounced his American citizenship," said SCGOP Press Secretary Matt Orr. "Thomas Ravenel can't even vote for himself. His so-called 'campaign' is an embarrassment and the people of South Carolina don't appreciate it one bit."
Hutto's campaign also released as statement saying, "We welcome anyone with serious ideas to the race and look forward to debating the issues that matter. Lindsey Graham loves being a Washington big shot but he's lost touch with folks in South Carolina. It appears voters will have several choices with whom to replace him with come November," said Lachlan McIntosh, his campaign manager.
"I welcome Thomas Ravenel's petition effort. If his petition is certified, we can have a very lively four-way debate about the challenges facing Americans today and how best to meet those challenges," said Kocher. "I know that Thomas has expressed a desire to discuss issues from the perspective of liberty and I welcome that. Voters in an election, just like consumers in the economy, deserve the widest possible array of competitive choices. But, even if his petition is not certified, the voters of South Carolina can be assured that Liberty is on the ballot."