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      Ravenel presents 17,000 signatures for US Senate ballot

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH/AP) -- Former South Carolina treasurer Thomas Ravenel turned in over 17,000 signatures to run as an independent for U.S. Senate.

      "We welcome anyone with serious ideas to the race and look forward to debating the issues that matter. Lindsey Graham loves being a Washington big shot but he's lost touch with folks in South Carolina. It appears voters will have several choices with whom to replace him with come November." said Lachlan McIntosh, campaign manager of Brad Hutto.

      Ravenel presented the signatures Monday morning at the state Election Commission in Columbia. He claims to have collected over 17,000 instead of the required 10,000. Ravenel wants to be on the November ballot for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

      The South Carolina Republican Party Press Secretary Matt Orr released a statement on the former state treasurer.

      "We doubt many voters will be interested in a convicted felon who renounced his American citizenship." stated Orr. "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."

      "I welcome Thomas Ravenel's petition effort. If his petition is certified, we can have a very lively four-way debate about the challenges facing Americans today and how best to meet those challenges. I know that Thomas has expressed a desire to discuss issues from the perspective of liberty and I welcome that. Voters in an election, just like consumers in the economy, deserve the widest possible array of competitive choices,"said Victor Kocher the Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate.

      Ravenel became state treasurer in 2007. But he had to resign months after his election when he was charged with buying cocaine for himself and his friends. He would plead guilty and spend 10 months in prison. He also pleaded guilty to drunken driving in New York in March.

      Ravenel has said he is running to reduce the size of government, give people more freedom and to curb U.S. involvement overseas.