Ravenel, 51, announced a bid to run against Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as an independent on Friday at a Fourth of July rally in Greenville, S.C. He will have until July 15 to gather the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the ballot in November.
In 2007, Ravenel was forced out of his post as treasurer when he pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
In his campaign announcement, the libertarian-leaning Ravanel said he wanted to give "a real debate and a real choice" to South Carolinians who had been forced into "choosing the lesser of two evils" by a "failed two-party system."
"Government doesn't belong in your boardroom, your bedroom or your email inbox," he said. "But its presence in every aspect of our lives continues to grow. Democrats keep dictating choices in our marketplaces and Republicans keep telling us who we can and cannot love. And both parties want to keep spending like there's no tomorrow while they spy on us to make sure we don't step out of line. All of this leads to less prosperity and liberty -- and more dependency and fear."
Ravenel has a 3-month-old daughter with Kathryn Dennis, 22, with whom his relationship was chronicled on the Bravo reality series Southern Charm. He is the son of former Rep. Arthur Ravenel Jr., R-S.C.
Democrat Brad Hutto is also on the ballot.