Tourism push, in spite of boycott

Former Charleston City Councilman Kwadjo Campbell says it's OK to explore ways of ramping up black tourism in South Carolina during the NAACP's Confederate flag boycott.

Campbell is organizing the third annual conference on the growth of the African-American tourism niche. His message is that tourism generates billions of dollars for the state's economy and that there are benefits to supporting, promoting and maximizing black tourism potential, including for historically disadvantaged communities.

"I'm not against the NAACP," said Campbell, who now lives in the Greenville area. "I support the NAACP and the spirit of what it's trying to do. But, at the same time, there are African-American businesses and nonprofits that are operating here in South Carolina, and there are resources to help those things develop."

The NAACP's travel and tourism boycott over the display of the Confederate flag at the Statehouse has been in place since 2000 with arguable impact.

The event, done via the Wando-Huger Community Development Center, is set for Sept. 27 at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston.

Campbell expects full capacity participation of at least 150 people.

T-Rav never lost his voting rights

Due to an apparent oversight, former S.C. Treasurer Thomas Ravenel never actually lost the right to vote after he pleaded guilty to a cocaine charge in 2007, the S.C. Election Commission said.

A spokesman said the elections office never received a felony conviction notice from the federal court, meaning Ravenel was never made "inactive."

"We cannot make a person 'inactive' unless the state or federal courts notify us that the person was convicted of a felony," said commission spokesman Chris Whitmire. "So he has remained active in our system throughout the time he was serving his sentence."

Ravenel was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2007 to possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Usually, when a person is convicted of a felony in South Carolina, the courts notify the commission and the voter is made inactive, Whitmire said. The loss of voting privileges is not permanent but any suspended voter must submit a new voter registration application to become eligible again once their sentence is over.

Ravenel did submit a new registration application in May of this year, which is what a felon who has completed his sentence would have to do to register to vote again, Whitmire said.

Ravenel is challenging Republican Lindsey Graham as an independent candidate. He said he plans to submit his signatures to the election commission Monday. Democrat Brad Hutto is also running.

Ravenel cast a ballot in the recent Republican primary held in June, the Charleston County voter office confirmed.

Gilliard running for Charleston mayor

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard says he's "99.9 percent" sure he'll run for mayor of Charleston next year. The only thing stopping him is "if God calls me back," he said.

Gilliard would join what's expected to be a crowded field, though former City Hall official John Tecklenburg so far is the only declared candidate to succeed retiring Mayor Joe Riley.

Gilliard, D-Charleston, previously served 11 years on City Council. He promised a "grassroots," inclusive campaign that will join the "have-nots" as well as the "have-gots," he said.

One name that won't be in the mix next year is Charleston businesswoman Linda Ketner. She said early last week that she wouldn't run.

Charleston GOP honoring McConnell

New College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell will be recognized by the Charleston County Republican Party on Monday at their monthly Executive Committee meeting.

McConnell represented Charleston for three decades in the S.C. Senate before becoming lieutenant governor and eventually landing the top job at CofC.

"Please join us Monday and show your appreciation for Glenn McConnell's loyal service," party Chairman John Steinberger said in the announcement invitation.