Celebrity chef steps into SC Senatorial ring

Dupree (Source: Nathalie.com)
Dupree (Source: Nathalie.com)

By Sam Tyson email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Add one more name to the list of candidates jockeying for Senate seats in South Carolina -- Nathalie Dupree.

Yes, celebrity chef, cookbook author and Charlestonian Nathalie Dupree is momentarily putting down the oven mitts and turning off the standing mixer to join an already bizarre pool of Senatorial candidates.

She made her official announcements Thursday afternoon, one at the State House in Columbia and a second at Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston.

"I have one goal in this campaign: to cook Jim DeMint's goose," she said in her first stump speech.

Dupree, 70, faces incumbent and Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint, the Democratic long-shot and criminally-entrenched Alvin Greene, and Green Party candidate Tom Clements, whose website has been linked to off the Aiken County Democratic Party website.

Much of Dupree's stump speech focused on what DeMint was not doing for the state.

"Sen. Lindsey Graham is trying, but Sen. DeMint's small-minded, stubborn refusal means that our state is being punished, all because he refuses to join Sen. Graham in asking for an earmark," she said. "Unlike Jim DeMint, I'm ready to bring home the bacon."

The announcement of her write-in candidacy came Thursday morning, little more that a month from the November election.

She told the New York Times in her first phone interview that she hoped to turn the attention away from her award-winning shrimp and grits and to DeMint, whom she said has spent more time outside the state garnering support for a fringe Republican movement than at home working to dig the state out of its financial quagmire.

She said his lack of presence in the state and his stance against the dredging of Charleston harbor prompted her Senate run.

One thing is for certain: she will have to remain in control of her schedule in these weeks before the election. According to her website, she has already committed to two three-day cooking engagements, one of which falls on election day.

Dupree has not said she would cancel her appearances to campaign.

"I'm going to make it clear that Jim DeMint doesn't care for the people of South Carolina as much as he does for his own ego," she told the New York Times.

Dupree had little to say to the New York Times about Greene, aside from pointing out that he didn't appear to be running any kind of campaign.

Her husband, Jack Bass, who is also an author, historian and college professor, may be well-suited for her campaign. He has a deep understanding of the Southern political system and has even written a fairly comprehensive biography on one of South Carolina's biggest politicians, Strom Thurmond.

Incidentally, the last candidate to mount a successful write-in campaign for Senate was Thurmond in 1954.

Dupree told the New York Times she is in the process of assembling a political team and expects to spend between $60,000 and $100,000 on her campaign over the next month.

The question now, it seems, is whether Dupree, who has earned two James Beard awards for her cooking, can whip up the same excitement outside the kitchen and plate a strong political showing.

However, "I acknowledge I'm no Strom Thurmond," she said.

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