A former South Carolina state treasurer and reality TV star says he has enough signatures to be on the ballot in November’s U.S. Senate race.
Thomas Ravenel said he submitted more than 16,000 signatures to the State Election Commission Monday. He needed 10,000 to become eligible for the race, which already features incumbent U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham as the Republican and challengers State Sen. Brad Hutto as the Democrat and Victor Kocher as the Libertarian.
“When it comes to their voice, South Carolina voters will no longer have a false choice between the warfare state and the welfare state,” Ravenel said in prepared remarks shortly after submitting the signatures.
Ravenel was a Republican when he was first elected as State Treasurer in 2006. But he was forced to resign the position his first year into the job after an indictment on cocaine distribution charges. He ended up pleading guilty to a lesser conspiracy charge and spent ten months in prison. He frequently popped in and out of local politics, once pledging to renounce his U.S. citizenship out of frustration that federal laws do not allow a convicted felon to own firearms (he never followed through on that threat). He also had his license suspended six months after his arrest in New York last year on a driving while intoxicated charge.
Republicans downplayed his entrance into the race Monday. “We doubt many voters will be interested in a convicted felon who renounced his American citizenship,” SCGOP press secretary Matt Orr said in an email. “Thomas Ravenel can’t even vote for himself. His so-called ‘campaign’ is an embarrassment and the people of South Carolina don’t appreciate it one bit.”
A convicted felon is able to run for office under federal law, even though South Carolina does not allow felons to run for statewide elected office. However, Ravenel is allowed to vote after completing his three years of probation, according to a state Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services spokesman.