Thomas Ravenel, reality TV star, apparently is looking for another real-life role: U.S. senator. His candidacy should be relegated to the Fantasy Channel.
Ravenel, 51, is a regular on Southern Charm, the Bravo TV reality show that follows the high-flying lifestyles of a group of wealthy denizens of Charleston. Ravenel, a real estate developer and avid polo player, announced this month that he hopes to run as an independent candidate for the seat now held by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
To get on the ballot, he’ll have to come up with 10,000 signatures from registered voters by July 15. Let’s hope there aren’t 10,000 voters in the state with such short memories.
Many South Carolinians might recall that, in addition to being a wealthy playboy and reality TV personality, Ravenel also has had a bumpy political past. He actually has run for the Senate already, seeking the seat left open when Democrat Fritz Hollings retired in 2004.
Ravenel came in third in the Republican primary won by Jim DeMint, who went on to win the open seat. But after the election, Ravenel was fined more than $19,000 by the Federal Election Commission for failing to file the proper paperwork for his campaign.
He had better luck in his run for the post of S.C. Treasurer in 2006, defeating nine-term incumbent Democrat Grady Patterson. But in June 2007, Ravenel was indicted on federal cocaine distribution charges.
He resigned from office in July of that year, underwent rehab, and, in September, pleaded guilty to “conspiring to buy and distribute less than 100 grams of cocaine.” He then served 10 months in federal prison.
More recently, he was charged with DUI while traveling in New York. As a convicted felon, he can run for the Senate but can’t vote for himself.
We believe in second chances for those who deserve one. But Ravenel has shown little contrition and has done nothing to indicate that he should be seriously considered for public office of any kind, much less the U.S. Senate.
For example, in an interview with The Greenville News, Ravenel said he would fight for better checks and balances in Washington by standing up to policies like those allowing the president to appoint members of the judiciary. If that’s an accurate representation of what he said, he needs to spend some time studying the U.S. Constitution, which, in Article II, Section II, gives the president the authority to appoint members of the federal judiciary, including Supreme Court justices.
Changing that would require a constitutional amendment ratified by three-quarters of the states. We don’t think that’s likely to happen.
In reality – as opposed to reality TV – Ravenel has little chance of winning in a field that also includes Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg and Libertarian Victor Kocher of Columbia. Even without his checkered past, he would have a tough time wooing voters in a state where many vote a straight GOP or Democratic ticket.
South Carolina also could do without the embarrassing publicity that is likely to accompany Ravenel’s campaign. He should stick to polo.