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      Ravenel keeps Charm to 'spread his ideas to bigger audience'

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Thomas Ravenel will have a busy year. The former politician turned reality show member says he will return to Southern Charm for its second season.

      Ravenel is also running for U.S. Senate against Lindsey Graham as an independent. On Monday, he filed some 17,000 signatures with the state election commission to get on the ballot.

      Ravenel said in a release the decision to return to the show was a struggle.

      "Ultimately it came down to this: It doesn't make sense to turn down a platform that enables you to spread your ideas to a bigger, more diverse audience," he said. "If America is ever going to turn things around, we've got to get rid of this notion that cookie cutter politicians with their blemish-free backgrounds are the way to go."

      Ravenel spent 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to buying cocaine for himself and friends in 2007. He has said the conviction makes him an imperfect messenger, but he thinks his ideas will save the country.

      He says the politicians who are trying to whitewash their colored pasts are "driving this country into a ditch."

      "That's never been who Thomas Ravenel is - and so owning a part of my life that doesn't fit the typical political mold is fine by me," he said.

      Ravenel wants to reduce the size of government and give people more personal freedom. He says the U.S. needs a better foreign policy.

      A statement from the state Republican Party called Ravenel a convicted felon and called his efforts an embarrassment to the state.

      In the first season of Southern Charm, Ravenel impregnated a woman half his age. He and Kathryn Dennis had a baby girl, Kensington Calhoun, but the couple has not been married yet.

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