S.C. Democrats To Deliberate Mystery Nominee's Fate

Alvin Greene, South Carolina Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate i i

Alvin Greene won the Democratic nomination for Senate in South Carolina's primary on June 8. Mary Ann Chastain/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mary Ann Chastain/AP
Alvin Greene, South Carolina Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate

Alvin Greene won the Democratic nomination for Senate in South Carolina's primary on June 8.

Mary Ann Chastain/AP

Democrats in South Carolina are still wondering just what happened last week when they picked their nominee for U.S. Senate.

The easy winner in the primary was Alvin Greene, a cipher of a candidate who had no visible campaign. The losing candidate is protesting the outcome, and the state Democratic Party will hold a hearing on the matter Thursday.

Since the primary, Greene has done some TV interviews, but he's also hung up on a lot of reporters. He didn't respond Wednesday to e-mail and phone messages from NPR.

He did have a fairly gentle talk a few days ago with conservative radio commentator Mark Levin.

"I'm not focusing on campaigning," he said in the interview, which aired Monday. "I'm just going to stick with, you know, my, the issues that I'm focusing on." He listed jobs, education and justice.

"We have to be sure that the punishment fits the crime, and ... I believe that I am the best candidate for United States Senate."

Greene, 32, graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2000 with a degree in political science. He served in the Air Force and then in the Army until last August. Now he's unemployed.

Last November, Greene was hit with a felony obscenity charge. He got a public defender — a sign that he couldn't afford a lawyer.

Then, in March, he filed as a candidate. He had to pay $10,440 for a filing fee — and he did so by check.

"I saved it — I saved my — in the Army," he said about the money when he appeared on Levin's show.

Many Democrats say the money is a red flag. Rep. James Clyburn, the House majority whip, considers Greene a plant — a tool of dirty tricksters in a state famous for its alley-fight politics.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked for investigations by the Federal Election Commission and the South Carolina attorney general.

"All they'd have to look at is his bank records," says CREW director Melanie Sloan. "And if he had the $10,000, it was his money, well, that's really case closed on that end. But if he didn't, then there should be further investigation into whether or not there were folks pulling the strings here."

South Carolina makes it a misdemeanor to induce someone or to be induced to run for office. The attorney general says he hasn't seen credible evidence of a crime. But there's little evidence of a campaign, either.

No stump speeches. No campaign office or phone. No website. No reports of any fundraising or spending. Certainly no TV ads.

The losing candidate was Vic Rawl, a former state legislator. He got clobbered by Greene, 59 to 41 percent.

On Wednesday, Common Cause and Voter Action asked South Carolina to investigate whether its voting machines were hacked.

A lot of people in South Carolina are asking: How did Greene win a hundred thousand votes?

"I have no idea. I mean I have no idea whatsoever," says Joe Erwin, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party.

"I've talked to maybe, you know, 50, 60, 75 people that I know around the state. And seemingly nobody knew anything about this guy, and nobody can tell me of anybody who voted for him, or supported him in any way whatsoever."

Whatever the outcome of Rawl's protest before the state Democratic executive committee, the Republican in the race, incumbent Sen. Jim DeMint isn't likely to suffer.

Something that can't be said for the state's political reputation.

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