June 17th, 2010
08:56 PM ET
4 years ago

S.C. Dems keep Greene as Senate nominee

Democratic Party officials in South Carolina voted Thursday to uphold the result of their controversial Senate primary.
Democratic Party officials in South Carolina voted Thursday to uphold the result of their controversial Senate primary.

Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – Democratic Party officials in South Carolina voted Thursday to uphold the result of their controversial Senate primary even though the winner was Alvin Greene, an unemployed political novice who stands almost no chance of defeating Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in November.

Meeting in Columbia, members of the state Democratic Party executive committee voted by a 38-7 margin to reject a protest from former state lawmaker Vic Rawl, the establishment-backed candidate who unexpectedly lost last Tuesday's primary to Greene.

"They did the right thing," Greene said in a brief phone interview. "I am the best candidate for the United States Senate in the state of South Carolina."

Greene did not attend Thursday's hearing, despite entreaties from state party chairwoman Carol Fowler. Last week, Fowler publicly called on Greene to step aside after media reports brought a felony obscenity charge to light. Greene at the time told CNN he would not heed the request.

In arguments Thursday, Rawl's team called the election results suspicious and asked for a new primary vote, citing irregular voting patterns and potentially faulty voting machines.

"I believe this election mis-fired," said Walter Ludwig, Rawl's campaign manager.

Greene, who lives with his ailing father in Manning, captured the Democratic nomination by a nearly 20-point margin despite having no political experience or campaign apparatus.

Though he has no job, the 32-year-old Greene was able to pay the $10,440 required to get on the primary ballot, a circumstance that has some Democrats alleging Republican mischief.

Democratic officials heard testimony Thursday from a team of Rawl advisers, including an expert on voting machine problems, a computer forensics specialist and Rawl's campaign manager. Rawl's campaign also presented several voters who said they tried to vote for Rawl but saw the machines record votes for Greene.

The forensics expert hired by Rawl said it was possible the voting machines were tampered with and theorized that a hacker could have uploaded a "malicious code" into the machines to alter the results. But Rawl's team had no evidence that any machines were meddled with.

Ludwig, Rawl's campaign manager, rejected the theory that Greene picked up votes because he has an African-American sounding name in a state where the majority of Democratic primary voters are black.

South Carolinians with the last name "Greene" are more likely to be white, Ludwig argued, while people named "Green" are more likely to be black. He said that since Greene did almost no campaigning, few voters would have been aware of his race.

Ludwig said the Rawl campaign did not take Greene's candidacy for granted. "I was prepared to track his every move, but he made none," he explained.

He said the Rawl campaign is not alleging voter fraud.

Thursday's decision leaves few good options for Democrats, eager to extract themselves from the media circus surrounding Greene's candidacy. Greene will officially be certified as the nominee on Aug. 16, when the state party sends its list of candidates to the state election commission.

The best scenario, party officials say, would be for Greene to simply drop out of the race and spare Democrats further headaches, but Greene has not signaled any intention of quitting.

The executive committee could also re-convene again before August and refuse to certify Greene as their Senate nominee, a scenario one party official described to CNN as "the nuclear option."

Keeping a winning candidate off the November election ballot – particularly an African-American one – is an unpleasant prospect for Democrats.

But if Greene stumbles into further controversy - if the pending felony charges against him are pursued, for instance, or if it comes to light that someone other than himself paid his filing fee - Democrats would have cover to reject him.


Filed under: Alvin Greene • South Carolina
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Slider

    Maybe they'll get smart and kick Clyburn out.

    June 17, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  2. Objective observer

    It's pretty sad when the machine from the opposing party has to manufacture such a fraud in order for their man Jim Demint to win. The only guy he can beat is a black man with a criminal record. Unreal.

    June 17, 2010 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  3. Clint, Wa.

    Dude, can you say BYE, BYE?

    June 17, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  4. jenn,philadelphia

    Rawl's campaign manager says they aren't alleging voter fraud, except that they imply the machines were rigged (without proof) and that some one else paid the ballot fee (also without proof). It's a shame they couldn't find a couple of ballot boxes in the trunk of car. Maybe they could have some one drive down from Minnesota before they have to certify the election, to pick-up the extra votes.

    June 17, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. rich

    I think Greene has wandered past his pay grade which was not very high. Let him debate and see what he knows.

    June 17, 2010 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  6. Richie

    South Carolina... your local third world country.

    June 17, 2010 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    This country is so far in the toilet it's not funny.
    The man did not campaign, no one, not evenhis opponent had any informaiton on him, yet he won the election.
    At least when poeple vote for Snoopy, Mickey Mouse or Charie Brown, they do so knowing there is no such candidate.
    Next time someoen complains about our government, remind them that the electorate is ignorant and that no one has the right to complain.

    June 17, 2010 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Th Dem's answer to the stupidity of the tea party?

    Only he's a poly sci graduate, military vet in the area of intelligence, and he's shy. Not a hateful bone in his body.

    June 17, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  9. John

    Alvin – good luck with your beliefs that the majority of Democrats actually want you. I don't care about your background but, do you want DeMint in congress again? Good luck and after it's over you can access that you might have been played by the republicans to elect a person that is hostile against the poor and middle class. Good luck with your ego chasing.

    June 17, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  10. Jeff Spangler

    Get Greene a Dr. Feelgood like Michael Jackson had and an adviser like Snakehead Carville who understands the sort of life which comes out of the Deep South, and there may be some upside.

    June 17, 2010 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  11. normajean

    This whole thing is so ridiculous that I'm convinced that it should be called voter fraud and be investigated. Does anyone really think, seriously, that if the Democrats wanted to win this office they would back a completely inefficient, obviously confused,unqualified candidate such as Alvin Greene? It's absolutely absurd. Aside from his recent imprisonment, total lack of money,{wish I could come up with $10,000. that easily}., is this a suitable candidate for Senator from ANY party?.

    June 17, 2010 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. Michael

    You silly liberals! Fighting over a seat you have no chance in winning? You ought to focus on IN, PA, AK and the other states that the GOP has a strong chance of flipping.
    Now imagine liberals' response if the GOP wanted a playground re-do because they didn't like their own result and called it a liberal conspiracy. They'd say that the GOP was crazy but it makes sense when liberals do it.

    June 17, 2010 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  13. normajean

    To Mr. Greene, You go talk to your "grandma". she'll tell you what you are doing is wrong and you'll be sorry if you carry out this charade.

    June 17, 2010 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  14. HypocriCNN

    There's A Rat In This Whole Story, And I Sincerely Hope That Person Gets Exposed.

    June 17, 2010 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  15. Leah

    Just goes to show that anyone can win an election.... sorta like Palin.

    June 17, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. The reality is...

    ...people are sick and tired of the corrupt incumbents. You could have Daffy Duck on the ticket and people would vote him in because they know he could do a better job! ...face reality.

    June 17, 2010 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  17. mk

    Something wrong with a regular guy in the U.S. Senate?

    June 17, 2010 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  18. GO Greene

    You go guy, tell the dnc to shove it,

    June 17, 2010 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  19. Janelle

    Gee, could it be the voters in South Carolina are just sick and tired of poiticians, and voted for the name they didn't recognize? The name of someone who hasn't been on their tv's non-stop for weeks? The name of someone who hasn't been out slinging mud?

    June 17, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  20. Aaron

    Growing up in SC, we used to say Thank God for Mississippi, since we were just about #2 on every bad list and #49 on every good list, with Mississippi always loosing out. I don't think SCers can make that statement anymore.

    June 17, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  21. Bahiamar

    Congratulations to the Democratic party and Democrat-elect Greene for upholding the rule and law of fair election. This is a wake-up call to establishment-backed candidates not to be complacent and arrogant. Times have changed and is changing with unpredictable results.

    June 17, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  22. Kaptkarl

    The people have spoken, right? How could voters select an unknown African American man? Follow the money and you'll uncover the truth.

    June 17, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  23. Ben

    Greene you 15 minute fame is up. Go away!!!!

    June 18, 2010 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  24. A.B.

    I think the S.C. Democrats will leave this guy on the ballot, but will back someone to run against him in November. That person will be an independent and a more viable candidate who will challange DeMint. I think Greene will eliminate himself from the senate race due to pending felony charges the will be filed against him. My bet is this: Greene will be gone before the November elections and the independant senate candidate will run against DeMint.

    June 18, 2010 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  25. Ken in NC

    Can you see the irony in this? Fro the sake of argument, let's say Mr. Greene is a Republican plant that won his primary because many Republicans voted to insure his win with the thought that Senator DeMint would then beat the weaker opponent, Mr. Greene. OK That could work but what if Mr. Greene actually won the election? What would Demint say then? Mr. Greene would have been their plant that backfired in their faces. They couldn't admit it for the purpose of getting the election anulled because someone would have to go to prison for sure. This is a funny situation.

    June 18, 2010 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
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