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DIRTY TRICKS ALREADY UNDERWAY IN SOUTH CAROLINA’S U.S. SENATE RACE …

South Carolina’s reputation as America’s hotbed of dirty political tricks is secure … as the high-profile race for U.S. Senate fell victim to a “carefully orchestrated hoax” targeting its newest candidate.

Newsrooms across the Palmetto State started buzzing Wednesday when a media report – ostensibly a “wire” from the Associated Press – declared that Lowcountry businessman and former statewide official Thomas Ravenel had dropped out of the U.S. Senate race.

“One day he’s in – the next day he’s out,” the fake news report stated. “Reality TV show star Thomas Ravenel has pulled out of the race for the U.S. Senate Seat in South Carolina.  The move comes a day after he went through a big show having himself recorded as he showed up to file the necessary petitions to launch his candidacy.”

The report then claims Ravenel’s petition candidacy was “all a promotion for his Bravo show ‘Southern Charm.'”

Ravenel confirmed his candidacy to FITS in an interview.

“I’m in,” he told us. “Clearly that’s got somebody scared.”

Indeed … and our guess is that “somebody” is not Democratic nominee Brad Hutto, a State Senator from Orangeburg, S.C. who has welcomed Ravenel’s entry to the race.  Who doesn’t want Ravenel in the running?  U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (RINO-S.C.).

Anyway … wanna see a screen shot of the “wire?”

Take a look …

(Click to enlarge)

hoax email

Television stations in Columbia, Spartanburg and Charleston also confirmed receiving the “wire,” with several of them contacting the Ravenel campaign for comment.

The Associated Press’ Columbia, S.C. bureau told FITS it was “still trying to find out what happened.”

Asked whether the wire service would ever publish a report declaring a candidate to have dropped out of a race without first receiving confirmation from the candidate or an authorized spokesman, the AP declined to comment.

“We just found out about this five minutes ago,” AP reporter Jeffrey Collins told FITS.

Collins promised to contact FITS upon confirming that the wire was a hoax.

Ravenel’s campaign pounced on the botched stunt …

“This is nothing but a carefully orchestrated hoax intended to plant seeds of doubt,” Ravenel aide Kevin Heekin said.  “Lindsey Graham may wish Thomas Ravenel wasn’t running, but he is – and because he is South Carolinians will have a long-overdue choice come November. Lindsey Graham is afraid – and juvenile stunts like this telegraph his fear.”

Hard to argue with that assessment … now the only question is whether the hoax can be directly traced to supporters of Graham, arguably the most liberal “Republican” in the U.S. Congress.