It may not go down in the history books as the worst rebuttal to a campaign critique, but its pretty close.

Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Ken Ard never registered to vote until 2004, not long before he entered politics, but he’s had a spotty voting record since then. That includes skipping the 2008 general election (not kidding).

South Carolina’s Republican candidate for lieutenant governor said Friday he’s voted sparsely over the past six years because he never planned to run for office, adding that the state needs more of his political outsider approach.

But he said that’s because he hasn’t spent years trying to “audition” for statewide office.

Ard said it’s a case of decades-long apathy, not self-centeredness. He said he had no interest in politics until he and his brother took over the family company a maker of specialty construction trucks and equipment in 1996, and he grew increasingly frustrated about government’s impact on business.

“I ran around angry for a long time,” he said about why it was eight more years before he voted.

“I do regret a little bit it took something like that to motivate me enough to get involved,” Ard said, adding in his defense that he grew up in a nonpolitical family in tiny Pamplico. “I don’t think it matters how or when you get there.”

Voting records since 2006 show Ard voted in November of that year, as Florence County voters approved a local 1-cent sales tax for roads an idea he supported but did not cast a ballot in June or November 2008. He said he did vote in the January 2008 presidential primary, noting his primary runoff opponent criticized his backing of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. A complete voting history from the state Election Commission was not immediately available.

“I’ve never professed to be a perfect candidate,” he said, adding he hopes voters see him as the “guy next door.”

“We have a group of people who have auditioned to be a politician for a great portion of their lives and a lot of their decisions were predicated on that. … I’m proud not to be one of those guys,” he said. He said that “audition” includes going to Washington and joining “the right firm” a reference to Cooper’s four years as former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings’ lawyer and legislative director, and his current job with one of the state’s largest law firms.