NPR logo S.C. Democrats Back Surprise Winner Of Primary


S.C. Democrats Back Surprise Winner Of Primary

The party's executive committee decided Thursday there was not enough evidence of impropriety to nullify the June 8 election victory by Alvin Greene. The 32-year-old lives with his father and waged no visible campaign.


A Senate primary race in South Carolina raised eyebrows earlier this month when a largely unknown Democratic candidate barely campaigned, barely spent any money, and yet he won. Alvin Greene's victory shocked the Democratic Party in that state and prompted his opponent, Vic Rawl, to formally protest. Today, South Carolina's Democrats heard that protest and decided to uphold the surprising victory.

NPR's Don Gonyea sat in on the party hearing and joins us now.

Don, did Alvin Greene attend today's hearing?

DON GONYEA: Alvin Greene did not attend the hearing, nor did any representative of his. In fact, it was hard. In fact, I'll say it was impossible to find someone who was really in the Alvin Greene camp there today. So it was left for his opponent, the loser in the race, Vic Rawl, who was represented by an attorney, to make their argument.

NORRIS: And in the end, why did the Democratic committee decide to uphold Greene's victory despite the protest?

GONYEA: Well, Vic Rawl's attorney laid out a rather elaborate case. Basically, knocking down all the theories for why Alvin Greene won. His name was first on the ballot. They said, well, at the most that accounts for two and a half to five percent, not the big win, the big swing, that Greene had in the end.

Republican meddling, they said, well, you know, they had a pretty hot primary on their side, so there was not a lot of incentive for them to vote Democratic instead.

The fact that Alvin Greene is African-American drew a lot of votes because of that. Well, they answered: How would people know? He didn't campaign. Nobody knew who he was. So that couldn't have been it.

So they laid all these out, including many, many details about what might have gone wrong with the machines.

And, Michele, you've covered these stories. We heard these things in Ohio and in Louisiana, problems with electronic voting machines not being calibrated properly or being hooked up to the Internet, which they're not supposed to be because that can corrupt the results.

They laid out all of these potential reasons, but ultimately, what the executive committee, the South Carolina Democratic Party, said is absent absolute hard evidence, acts of that evidence.

Even though they agreed that it is a wrong outcome, that something happened. That had the unknown beating, you know, a reasonably well-known and certainly seasoned candidate who ran a very traditional campaign. They said, even though something went wrong, they are very reluctant to overturn an election result without hard evidence.

One gentleman testifying today - testifying - speaking to the crowd today said, hey, it's like a dog that starts chasing its tail, and it's never going to end.

Another stood up and said we could have cited the Republicans for doing this sort of thing. We can't do it ourselves.

NORRIS: Don Gonyea, thanks so much.

GONYEA: Okay, a long night here. Thanks. Bye-bye.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Don Gonyea speaking to us from South Carolina.

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