Tuesday, April 7, 2015

T-Rav's campaign needed more porn-star flair, says co-star

Southern Charm’s Sudler-Smith explains what went wrong with Ravenel’s run

Posted by Paul Bowers on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 2:55 PM

T-Rav: Too serious for his own good.
  • T-Rav: Too serious for his own good.

Buried in the middle of a recent blog post about Southern Charm co-star Thomas Ravenel's ill-conceived political ads, Whitney Sudler-Smith presented an interesting post-mortem take on T-Rav's 2014 campaign for the U.S. Senate: He should have acted more like an Italian porn star.

Sudler-Smith, the poor man's Jason Bateman, had this to say about Ravenel, the poor man's Arthur Ravenel Jr.:

We were confronted with a dilemma: We had a reality star running for the Senate with a checkered past. How should one approach this? Having grown up in DC, and knowing a lot of people working in politics, I consulted a senator, a political fundraiser (who's raised over a billion dollars for both parties), and numerous political pundits. The consensus was we had to embrace his past and create a media buzz. The political models were Jesse Ventura, an ex-WWE wrestler who became governor of Minnesota, and Cicciolina ("Little Fleshy one"), the Italian porn star who was voted into parliament. They got elected by tapping into voter dissatisfaction with the status quo, with the voters sending a message to the establishment by electing an "unconventional" candidate. That was the only chance we had in winning, and it appealed to all parties alike.
Whitney Sudler-Smith - COURTESY OF BRAVO TV
  • Courtesy of Bravo TV
  • Whitney Sudler-Smith

To hear Sudler-Smith tell it, Ravenel's campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham went down the tubes because he presented himself too seriously — not, as others would argue, because he caught a DUI in the Hamptons, talked openly about renouncing his citizenship, did prison time on federal cocaine distribution charges, or agreed to star in a show about the dalliances of douchebag dilettantes. Again, from Sudler-Smith:

Thomas eventually fired the political consultant I brought in and hired a former political blogger as his campaign manager. Their new strategy was to run him as a serious, conventional candidate, which I believed to be a mistake.

When Sen. Graham refused to debate Ravenel publicly in the run-up to his easy re-election, he didn't say it was because T-Rav was too serious a candidate. "It's not that I'm afraid to debate anybody's ideas, but I think I have a responsibility, being the sitting senator, not to allow this thing to turn into a circus," Graham told the City Paper last fall.

Graham won 55.3 percent of the votes in 2014. Ravenel ran as an independent petition candidate and won 3.9 percent, or a whopping 47,588 votes.

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