Reality Star Ravenel Running as Independent Against Sen. Graham

Image: Reality Star Ravenel Running as Independent Against Sen. Graham Reality TV star Thomas Ravenel.

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 02:30 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Reality TV star Thomas Ravenel, the former South Carolina state treasurer who resigned in 2007 after being arrested for cocaine possession, plans to run as an independent this fall for Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's seat.

Ravenel, who announced his candidacy on Friday, must gather 10,000 signatures from registered voters by July 15 to get on the ballot, The Greenville News reported.

"It’s not an act of self-aggrandizement; it's more I feel it's a duty," Ravenel told the News.

Ravenel as become better known in recent years as a star on Bravo's reality show "Southern Charm," The Hill reported.

The libertarian-leaning Ravenel says he wants to be a senator because he believes the government is too big and the country is heading toward a "doomsday scenario."

But even though Ravenel is the scion of a powerful South Carolina Republican family headed by former Rep. Arthur Ravenel, he said he chose to run as an independent because he agrees with the policies of both Democrats and Republicans. Further, he says both parties are "being co-opted by special interest groups."

Ravenel says he'd focus on healthcare, foreign policy, Medicare and Medicaid, and immigration, and wants to fight for a checks and balances system within the government.

"Were I the senator, I’d be up there right now filibustering those two appointees," Ravenel said, referring to Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both of whom were appointed by President Barack Obama.

If Ravenel gathers enough signatures he'll join Graham, as well as Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto and Libertarian Victor Kocher on the ballot.

He will face a formidable challenge against Graham. The 58-year-old senator had
about 59 percent of the vote in early returns in the June 10 primary, far more than the 50 percent he needed to avoid the runoff. His nearest primary rival, Lee Bright, had less than 14 percent of the vote.

Graham's challengers had argued he was not conservative enough. But Graham, who has been in office since 2002, had a hefty fundraising advantage. He has raised more than $12 million since his last re-election bid in 2008, while none of his opponents passed the $1 million mark.

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