|Preceded by Thomas F. Hartnett|
Preceded by District established
Party Republican Party
Education College of Charleston
|Preceded by Greg Smith|
Succeeded by Mark Sanford
Name Arthur Jr.
|Succeeded by Sherry Shealy Martschink|
Spouse Jean Rickenbaker (m. 1974)
Children Thomas Ravenel, Renee Ravenel, Eva Ravenel, Suzanne Ravenel
Grandchildren Kensington Calhoun Ravenel
Similar People Thomas Ravenel, Kathryn Dennis, Tim Scott
Succeeded by Raymond E. Cleary III
Born 29 March 1927 (age 94), Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Arthur ravenel jr bridge
The Charleston-born Ravenel served in the United States Marine Corps from 1945 to 1946. He thereafter received a bachelor of science degree from the College of Charleston in 1950. He is a realtor and general contractor. He was a Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1953 to 1959.
He switched to Republican affiliation in the early 1960s and ran many times for office. He lost a total of five elections for the South Carolina State Senate (1962, 1974, and 1976), for the United States House of Representatives (1971 special election), and for mayor of Charleston (also 1971).
Ravenel was finally elected as a Republican to the South Carolina Senate in 1980. He served until 1986, when he was elected to the U.S. Congress from the Charleston-based 1st District. He was reelected three more times without serious opposition. He did not run for reelection in 1994, but instead ran for governor. He finished second in the Republican primary to then State Representative David Beasley, but lost the runoff. Beasley, considered more conservative than Ravenel, went on to win the general election. In 1996, Ravenel was elected to his old seat in the state Senate, where he served until 2005.
Ravenel staged a comeback in 2006, having been elected at the age of 79 to a seat on the school board of Charleston County. Only a year earlier, he had suffered a bout of Guillain–Barré syndrome. In the same election, his son Thomas Ravenel, also a Republican, was elected state treasurer. Thomas served for only six months before he was suspended after being indicted for buying and distributing cocaine. Ravenel declined to run for re-election to the school board in 2010.
Ravenel said that he had run for the state Senate in 1996 specifically to seek funding for a new bridge between Charleston and Mount Pleasant to replace the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge and Silas N. Pearman Bridge. Both bridges were nearing the end of their useful lives, and had been criticized as safety hazards. Due to his efforts in passing laws for the new bridge's funding, fellow lawmakers voted to name the cable-stayed bridge in Charleston the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Some felt that the bridge should not be named after Ravenel, with the head of the South Carolina infrastructure bank saying in 1999, "Certainly, Arthur Ravenel is a fine, decent person, but that bridge is bigger than any one individual and it should reflect all the qualities of the state and not some state senator who happens to be in the Legislature the time the structure is being built."
Ravenel is a member of Moultrie Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and is a supporter of the Confederate flag being flown at the South Carolina statehouse. He provoked controversy at a rally for the flag in 2000 when he referred to the NAACP as the “National Association for Retarded People”. Ravenel upset even more people after he apologized to mentally handicapped people for comparing them to the NAACP. Many called for the Charleston bridge to be renamed.
Ravenel once said that his fellow white congressional committee members operated on "black time", which he characterized as meaning "fashionably late".