Columbia, SC (WLTX)-- Former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel announced he will run as an Independent for the U.S. Senate.
Ravenel is looking to replace Republican Lindsey Graham. He needs 10,000 signatures to appear on the November ballot.
Brad Hutto is the Democratic nominee running for the seat.
Ravenel was forced to resign from his job as Treasurer in 2007 after he pleaded guilty on a federal drug charge and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison.
Ravenel's press release is below:
Businessman, reality television star and former South Carolina State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel will run as an independent for the United States Senate seat currently held by liberal "Republican" Lindsey Graham. Ravenel made his Senate candidacy official prior to attending a Fourth of July rally in Greenville, S.C.
"It's time for voters across our state and this country to declare their independence from a failed two-party system – one that no longer represents their interests or the interests of Americans to come," the star of Bravo's 'Southern Charm' said. "Election after election of choosing the lesser of two evils has our economy and our freedoms on a downward slide – but there's still time to change the road we're on. To do that, though, we need a real debate and a real choice - candidates who are offering real ideas to turn things around."
Ravenel, 51, said his campaign would offer specific policies aimed at redefining the relationship between citizens and their government – something neither major party is willing or able to do.
"Government doesn't belong in your boardroom, your bedroom or your email inbox," he said. "But its presence in every aspect of our lives continues to grow. Democrats keep dictating choices in our marketplaces and Republicans keep telling us who we can and cannot love. And both parties want to keep spending like there's no tomorrow while they spy on us to make sure we don't step out of line. All of this leads to less prosperity and liberty – and more dependency and fear."
In declaring his candidacy, Ravenel spoke frankly about his past – including the ten months he spent in a federal prison following a 2007 drug arrest. He said he expected to be attacked over the issue – and was ready to defend himself.
"I'm an imperfect messenger, I know that – but somebody's got to stand up for the message," Ravenel said. "Also, the last time I checked there are plenty of 'perfect' messengers out there who are bankrupting our Treasury, destroying our economy, and sending our sons and daughters off to die and be disfigured in places we have no business fighting."
Ravenel said crafting a new foreign policy would be a centerpiece of his campaign.
"Ill-conceived interventions and this constant flip-flopping of allegiances between terrorist organizations does not make us safer – it only makes another attack on our homeland more likely," Ravenel said. "We absolutely must have the world's strongest military to protect our borders and secure our national interests – but our national defense is weakened by politically motivated pork projects, failed attempts at nation-building and picking up the tab for wealthy countries that won't defend themselves."
Ravenel will submit his signatures to appear on the November 2014 ballot to the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC) next week.