Thomas Ravenel, former state treasurer, reality TV star and convicted felon, has entered South Carolina's U.S. Senate race, injecting a new element of mystery and personality into the contest.
He brings with him a famous South Carolina name and infamous personal baggage in his challenge to longtime incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham. According to an Associate Press report, he was ready on Monday for the cameras, too, delivering his required signatures twice so cameras could get just the right shot.
Ravenel told The Post and Courier on Monday that he was in the race to win it, but conceded if polls show him not gaining traction or if he fails to raise substantial funding to be competitive, he could drop out of contention by September.
"If it gets into September and I don't have a chance, I'm not going to throw $3 (million) or $4 million down the drain," he said, comparing his bid to that of a startup business. "We'll just see what the return is as I'm making the phone calls and reaching out to people."
But Ravenel, 51, brings a lot of baggage into the race, the AP's Jeffrey Collins reported. His statement to reporters initially didn't touch on the problems in his personal life, which include a 10-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to buying cocaine for himself and his friends that led to his resignation as treasurer. He also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Long Island, New York, earlier this year and had his license suspended for six months.
His reality TV show, "Southern Charm," depicted Ravenel appearing inebriated and threatening to slap a cast mate, and the season culminated with him getting a co-star less than half his age pregnant. Ravenel has moved in with her and is helping to raise their infant daughter. He has said he won't return to the show for a second season.
"I know I am an imperfect messenger. But my personal life is my problem," Ravenel said. "Lindsey Graham's public life is your problem - everyone's problem."
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