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Can a reality TV star who served time in federal prison on a cocaine charge be elected to the U.S. Senate?

Thomas Ravenel, a former South Carolina treasurer and star of Bravo TV's Southern Charm, announced on the Fourth of July that he'll run as an independent against GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

"I'm an imperfect messenger, I know that — but somebody's got to stand up for the message," Ravenel said in a news release posted by WLTX-TV. "Also, the last time I checked there are plenty of 'perfect' messengers out there who are bankrupting our Treasury, destroying our economy and sending our sons and daughters off to die and be disfigured in places we have no business fighting."

Ravenel resigned in 2007 as state treasurer and then pleaded guilty to conspiring to buy and distribute cocaine. He was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison. In an interview with The Greenville News, Ravenel said his Senate bid is "not an act of self-aggrandizement; it's more I feel it's a duty."

The newly minted candidate will have an uphill battle against Graham, who recently knocked off six Republican challengers with varying degrees of Tea Party support to easily win renomination for a third term. Graham is already favored to beat Democrat Brad Hutto in the fall, and the senator's GOP primary race repeatedly has been cited as an example to Republicans who find themselves facing a Tea Party challenge.

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