Independent candidate for U.S. Senate Thomas Ravenel will be on the ballot in November, setting up what could be a costly, lively and TV-ready campaign.
The S.C. Election Commission contacted Ravenel's office Wednesday confirming he had met the necessary 10,000 signature-threshold of valid state voters to be listed as a candidate for the seat held by Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"We are officially on the ballot," Ravenel spokesman Kevin Heekin said of the certification. The goal now "is to get our message out."
Ravenel last month turned in about 16,500 signatures to the elections office, many acquired after he'd hired a vendor to collect them on his behalf.
The other ballot choices are Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg and Libertarian Victor Kocher.
Ravenel, a millionaire developer, comes to the race with a famous family name but a lot of baggage. He is the state's former Republican treasurer who resigned in 2007 after being caught in a federal cocaine investigation.
Most recently he was featured in the alcohol-fueled reality TV show, "Southern Charm," that included the story of him having an out-of-marriage child with a much younger co-star. Ravenel has confirmed he will be part of the show's second season, which is expected to begin filming soon.
Graham, meanwhile, during a press conference Wednesday in Mount Pleasant on changes at the Department of Veterans Affairs, declined to address whether he would take part in a debate involving Ravenel, or if he envisioned himself being on a stage with a convicted cocaine felon.
"I envision seeing myself taking the oath of office in January," he said.
A recent Post and Courier poll found that 45 percent of likely South Carolina voters would support Graham, compared to 33 percent for Democrat Hutto.
Ravenel was the choice of 10 percent, with 4 percent supporting Kocher and 8 percent undecided, based on the survey of 650 likely voters.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551