Charles D. “Pug” Ravenel (1938-2017) passed away Saturday after battling cancer. A small memorial exhibit is on display at the entrance to the Hollings Library through the end of April. SCPC is honored to preserve Ravenel’s papers, five feet of material chiefly documenting his 1974 campaign for governor. Just last year, his brother Hal recorded an insightful oral history interview focused on that race.
Pug Ravenel forever changed the nature of political campaigning in South Carolina in his 1974 run for governor. In the crowded Democratic primary to succeed Governor John West, the charismatic Ravenel surprised pundits by winning over more established public servants. The Charleston native’s campaign recalled John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential race. Running as an outsider on a platform of change, and showcasing his young family, Ravenel’s innovative style, charismatic manner, and effective use of television reinvigorated the political system
and excited a new generation of voters.
As then-U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings noted, “Pug is the best thing that ever happened to our party. We were dying. He brought in fresh faces and fresh ideas.”
Ultimately, Ravenel was ruled ineligible due to a residency issue and Republican James B. Edwards won election over the late Democratic substitute, Bryan Dorn.
Political scientist Don Fowler recalled that Ravenel “brought to the South Carolina arena a vigor, perspective, intelligence, and charisma which we have rarely seen.”