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CANDIDATE ADVANCES ISSUES, ADDRESSES HIS PAST IN GREENVILLE TEA PARTY APPEARANCE

Lowcountry businessman and independent U.S. Senate candidate Thomas Ravenel took his message of fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism to the heart of South Carolina’s Upstate this week.

“Government is trying to do everything for everybody,” Ravenel told an overflow crowd of nearly 150 at a meeting of the Greenville, S.C. Tea Party. “It needs systemic, structural change and I would submit to you that the current occupant of the office isn’t getting it done.”

Ravenel singled out incumbent “Republican” Lindsey Graham for his support of new energy taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes and internet taxes.  He also blasted Graham for not keeping his promise to oppose tax hikes.

Of interest to social conservatives, Ravenel publicly addressed his occasionally chaotic personal life – including the 2007 drug conviction that cost him the State Treasurer’s office.

“My personal life is my problem,” he said. “Lindsey Graham’s public life is your problem — it’s everybody’s problem.”

Ravenel has walked a fine line in addressing his 2007 conviction – apologizing for exercising poor judgment as an elected official but also arguing that government should not criminalize adults for decisions they make on their own time in the privacy of their own homes.

Ravenel has also pointed out he never sold drugs – only shared them, adding “I’m the only person ever to go to federal prison for sharing.”

Upstate Republican activist Kaaren Mann attended the Tea Party event and said Ravenel was well-received.  According to Mann, Ravenel’s willingness to take questions on a variety of social issues won him points – along with his assertion that unlike Graham he was “not going to come in and tell them what they wanted to hear.”

Another Upstate Republican activist – Chris Lawton – told FITS Ravenel did “extremely well,” and that several attendees came up to him after the event to say how impressed they were with his performance.

“He took a bunch of questions,” Lawton told FITS, adding that Ravenel’s depth of knowledge appealed to those who attended the event.

“How many Senate candidates discuss the Federalist papers?” Lawton observed.

Ravenel qualified for the ballot earlier this month, meaning his name will appear alongside Graham, Democratic nominee Brad Hutto and Libertarian nominee Victor Kocher when voters go to the polls November 4.