The Magical Mystery Senate Candidate

Suzy Khimm at Mother Jones:

An unemployed 32-year-old black Army veteran with no campaign funds, no signs, and no website shocked South Carolina on Tuesday night by winning the Democratic Senate primary to oppose Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Alvin Greene, who currently lives in his family’s home, defeated Vic Rawl, a former judge and state legislator who had a $186,000 campaign warchest and had already planned his next fundraising event. Despite the odds, Greene, who has been unemployed for the past nine months, said that he wasn’t surprised by his victory. “I wasn’t surprised, but not really. I mean, just a little, but not much. I knew I was on top of my campaign, and just stayed on top of everything, I just—I wasn’t surprised that much, just a little. I knew that I worked hard and did,” Greene said in an interview.

Greene insists that he paid the $10,400 filing fee and all other campaign expenses from his own personal funds. “It was 100 percent out of my pocket. I’m self-managed. It’s hard work, and just getting my message to supporters. I funded my campaign 100 percent out of my pocket and self-managed,” said Greene, who sounded anxious and unprepared to speak to the public. But despite his lack of election funds, Greene claims to have criss-crossed the state during his campaign—though he declined to specify any of the towns or places he visited or say how much money he spent while on the road.

“It wasn’t much, I mean, just, it was—it wasn’t much. Not much, I mean, it wasn’t much,” he said, when asked how much of his own money he spent in the primary. Greene frequently spoke in rapid-fire, fragmentary sentences, repeating certain phrases or interrupting himself multiple times during the same sentence while he searched for the right words. But he was emphatic about certain aspects of his candidacy, insisting that details about his campaign organization, for instance, weren’t relevant. “I’m not concentrating on how I was elected—it’s history. I’m the Democratic nominee—we need to get talking about America back to work, what’s going on, in America.”

The oddity of Greene’s candidacy has already prompted speculation from local media about whether he might be a Republican plant. But Greene denies that Republicans or anyone else had approached him about running. “No, no—no one approached me. This is my decision,” he said. A 13-year military veteran, he says he had originally gotten the idea in 2008 when he was serving in Korea. “I just saw the country was in bad shape two years ago…the country was declining,” he says. “I wanted to make sure we continue to go up on the right track.” But when asked whether there was a specific person or circumstance that precipitated his decision to jump into politics, Greene simply replied: “nothing in particular…it’s just, uh, nothing in particular.” South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler speculated that Greene won because his name appeared first on the ballot, and voters unfamiliar with both candidates chose alphabetically.

Haley Cohen at Vanity Fair:

After his shocking win, the Huffington Post had to solicit its readers for any tidbits about Greene, pleading: “Do YOU know anything about Alvin Greene? Do you have any photos of him?” The unemployed 32-year-old Army veteran lives with his parents and barely campaigned at all: he had no yard sign and no Web site, and he paid the $10,400 filing fee and all other campaign expenses out of his own pocket. According to Mother Jones, he didn’t show up to the South Carolina Democratic Party convention in April or file any of the mandatory paperwork for candidates with the state or the Federal Election Commission. The kicker? Charleston’s Live5news.com reported today that Greene is actually facing a pending felony charge for showing lewd Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student and suggesting they go to her dorm room.

So how the heck did this man beat out 64-year-old former four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl, who ran a $186,000 campaign? State Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler offered an uber-scientific reason, speculating that voters unfamiliar with either candidate may have voted for Greene because his name appeared first alphabetically. (Note: This theory may also account for how Bush won twice.)

Jim Geraghty at National Review Online:

If you read this in a novel, you would dismiss it as too outlandish.

David Weigel:

You’d think the local Democratic Party would avoid a disaster like that this year. Vic Rawl, a former state legislator, was not the party’s first choice — he raised about $230,452 and looked set to be the party’s sacrificial lamb against Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). He just went down by a 16-point margin to Alvin Greene. Who is Alvin Greene? A 32-year-old unemployed army veteran who paid the filing fee to run then promptly disappeared. When reached by Corey Hutchins to talk about his campaign, on the suspicion that he was a Republican plant, Greene was incoherent.

Asked if he thought it was a good investment to spend so much of his own money in a two-way Democratic primary to run against a popular Republican with millions in campaign cash, Greene replied: “Rather than just save the $10,000 and just go and buy gasoline with it, just take [it] and just be unemployed for [an] even longer period of time, I mean, that wouldn’t make any sense, um, just, um, but, uh, yes, uh … lowering these gas prices … that will create jobs, too. Anything that will lower the gasoline prices. Offshore drilling, the energy package, all that.”

And so Democrats face Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the political leaders of the tea party movement, with a wholly unserious candidate.

Ed Morrissey:

Um … wow.  Just … wow.  The Associated Press had better be sure of its reporting, because if this turns out to be another Alvin Greene, they’ll have to have their checkbooks handy.  They did call and ask for a response, but Greene told them he had no comment.

I guess this eliminates the whole family-values campaign, then?

Assuming this is true, Greene hasn’t yet been charged, but he had to put up a bond to get his release after the arrest.  Didn’t the state Democratic party do any sort of background check on their candidates?  This is exactly the kind of scandal that can not only eliminate any chance of beating DeMint but will also resonate through the down-ticket races as well.

Again, assuming this is true, does the party have any way to get Greene off of the ballot?  He won an open primary, which unlike conventions, are usually the final word in nominations.  I’m sure that South Carolina Democrats are frantically checking the answer to that question right now.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

No, I don’t know why anybody would bother further ensuring DeMint’s re-election: this goes far beyond ‘belt-and-suspenders’ and well into ‘plate armor’ territory.  But, seriously: where did this guy come from, where did he get the money to run…  and why has all of this been done for this race?  Is this some form of bizarre political performance art?

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Back in March he walked into the state Democratic headquarters with a personal check for $10,400. That’s the filing fee. The party people said they weren’t allowed to take a personal check. It had to come from a campaign account. So a few hours later he came back with a check from a campaign account. And he signed up to run.

And that was it. He held no events. He never campaigned. He didn’t go to the convention. He never filed any money filings. He never raised any money. He didn’t even have a website. In other words, by every conceivable measure he never actually mounted a campaign. When Mother Jones called him shortly after his victory and asked him what was up, he seemed hard pressed to explain why he had run or really anything about what was going on other than to insist that the ten grand was his money.

Now, if Rawl, the other guy, had had much hope of beating DeMint there would be a much more logical argument about why someone would want to put Greene up to this as some sort of dirty trick. But that’s not really true. Rawl seemed like a real, real longshot.

But still. I know people don’t have to be professional politicians to run for office. They don’t have to have conventional political ideas — to put it mildly. But when an out-of-work guy with no political background at all and no stated reason why he chose to run puts up ten grand to run in an election I’d really expect him to have some reason for running — some strong political beliefs, maybe some crankish political beliefs, the desire for exposure or self-promotion, something. But here, nothing. None of those seem to apply. That doesn’t make sense to me.

UPI:

South Carolina’s Democratic Party has asked the winner of the state’s U.S. Senate primary to drop out because of a reported felony charge, party officials said.

Alvin Greene, 32, is unemployed and living with his parents in Manning, ABC News reported. He was asked to leave the military last year after 13 years.

State Democratic Chairwoman Carol Fowler asked Greene to leave the race Wednesday, the party said in a message posted on its Web site, citing media reports Greene was recently charged with “disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity” by showing obscene photos to a University of South Carolina student.

“Today I spoke with Alvin Greene, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, and asked him to withdraw from the race,” Fowler said in a statement. “I did not do this lightly, as I believe strongly that the Democratic voters of this state have the right to select our nominee.”

Fowler said “the decisions of many of those voters” would have been affected if the report had come out before the election.

Wonkette:

If the whole thing wasn’t so shoddy and mean, it would almost seem like a Wonkette joke brought to life. “We need to get talking about America back to work, what’s going on, in America.” Uhh …. thanks for exceeding expectations, South Carolina!

UPDATE: John Sides

Rachel Slajda at TPM

Tom Schaller

Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s place

Doug Mataconis

UPDATE #2: Ed Pilkington at The Guardian

Wonkette

UPDATE #3: Jessica Taylor at Politico

Allah Pundit

Jon Bershad at Mediaite

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Magical Mystery Senate Candidate

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