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Democrats Scratch Their Heads Over Alvin Greene

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Democrats Scratch Their Heads Over Alvin Greene

Democrats Scratch Their Heads Over Alvin Greene

Democrats Scratch Their Heads Over Alvin Greene

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Democratic party establishment in South Carolina wants to know how Alvin Greene get nearly 60 percent of the primary vote for a U.S. Senate seat. It seem not very many people had heard of him. Greene, a political unknown, defeated former state lawmaker Vic Rawl in the June 8 primary.


And we're going to follow up this morning on the story of Alvin Greene. He's the man who won a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in South Carolina. He got almost three-fifths of the vote, even though hardly anybody seemed to have heard of him before primary day. Today, the South Carolina Democratic Party holds a meeting to ask how this happened. NPR news analyst Juan Williams is following the story.

Juan, good morning.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What makes people suspicious of Alvin Greene?

WILLIAMS: Oh, where do I start? Let's see. He's living at home with his 81-year-old dad. He's unemployed. He didn't run a campaign. He didn't run any ads. He didn't have a website. He was using the public library to send and receive emails.

INSKEEP: Not that there's anything wrong with a public library. But please, go on.

WILLIAMS: No. Hey, I'm a big supporter. But by his own account, Steve, he was involuntarily discharged from the Army. He's also facing felony charges of obscenity, showing pornography. And when he was charged with that, he signed a document indicating that he was sufficiently indigent to have a public defender. And yet he somehow came up with $10,400 for a filing fee to get into this Senate race and - of course - he won.

INSKEEP: Didn't he something like 100,000 votes?

WILLIAMS: Indeed, 59 percent of the vote, against a well-known lawmaker, Vic Rawls - 59 percent. But right now, you've got Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asking the South Carolina attorney general to investigate; the Federal Election Commission is being asked to investigate. The Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina has asked Mr. Greene to withdraw.

Jim Clyburn, probably the best known Democrat from South Carolina, also a black Democrat, has said that Mr. Greene is nothing more than a plant by somebody who has put him up to this.

INSKEEP: Any possibility that could be the case?

WILLIAMS: Well, yeah. I mean, you know, all of this is highly suspicious. I mean, nobody even knows who he is. Imagine, Jim Clyburn, who must know every black politician in the state, says he's never met the guy, never heard of the guy before last week. And he got more votes than established black lawmakers, you know, throughout the state of South Carolina.

It's phenomenal. It would - it's something like if you put together Langston Hughes and Mark Twain, and maybe a little bit of Molly Ivins, and wrote a political story. It's incredible if it's true.

INSKEEP: The suggestion being made here is even that the voting machines were tampered with in some way. Is that correct?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's one of the charges and possibilities that Rawls is suggesting - would be the basis for the executive committee of the South Carolina Democratic Party, which is meeting today, to say, you know what? We're going to set this aside.

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah, Rawl, that's the guy who was defeated here - the rather embarrassed politician, I would imagine. Is it actually possible to set aside a primary result like this?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, the South Carolina Democratic Party could agree to certify it. They could say there were problems with the machines - as you described, Steve. Or they could even declare Rawl the winner.

INSKEEP: Now, we should say, in Mr. Greene's defense, he did talk with Time magazine and said, quote: Very simply, I am the best candidate for the United States Senate in South Carolina.

And he goes on to say, I am the best person to be Time magazine's Man of the Year.

What does he stand for?

WILLIAMS: Well, he said that he's for - his foreign policy amounts to this. He's for one Korea under democratic rule. Beyond that, he just says he's the best. And as you can tell, he's not short on, you know, ego and sense of confidence.

INSKEEP: OK. Juan, thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: NPR news analyst Juan Williams, talking with us about a meeting today in South Carolina where Democrats will consider what, if anything, to do about the candidacy of Alvin Greene, their elected candidate for United States Senate.

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