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"I wasn’t surprised, but not really. I mean, just a little, but not much."
June 9, 2010 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Largely overshadowed by the Republican gubanatorial primary (relevant portion starts at the 4:25 mark), last night South Carolina Democrats chose a nominee to face incumbent Republican Senator Jim DeMint in November. On the ballot were former judge and state legislator Vic Rawl of Charleston and a 32-year-old unemployed black Army veteran named Alvin Greene. Mr. Greene first attempted to pay his filing fee by personal check, had no campaign funds, no signs, no website, never attended a South Carolina Democratic party meeting, never held a public event, never met his opponent, and has repeatedly been described as somewhat incoherent. Mr. Greene also just beat his opponent by a whopping 16-point margin to become Jim DeMint's dream opponent.
posted by ND¢ (139 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
"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."
posted by ND¢ at 7:52 AM on June 9, 2010


Wow.
posted by chunking express at 7:54 AM on June 9, 2010


> ...voters unfamiliar with both candidates chose alphabetically."

"Hi, I'm Aaron A. Aaronson, and I'd like your vote for Senator."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:55 AM on June 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Ok, so the comments to follow can go in either direction:

1) Serious analysis of the current state of the democratic process and it's larger implications
2) One liners, snark, and references to Mr. Traficant

Like the FPP's circumstances, the more likely option is not going to be the one you'd hope for. I don't know if that troubles me, as I'm in it for the lulz, as well.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:56 AM on June 9, 2010


"voters unfamiliar with both candidates chose alphabetically"

Are primary voters usually so uninformed? I'd thought people voting in primaries were the motivated savvy voters.
posted by Mitheral at 7:57 AM on June 9, 2010


In Dutch elections today everybody is wondering how many votes the anti-muslim party PVV will get.
I hope turnout is big and common sense prevails.
posted by joost de vries at 7:59 AM on June 9, 2010


Does South Carolina have open (you can vote for candidates in either party) or closed (you can vote only within the party you registered with) primaries?
posted by ardgedee at 7:59 AM on June 9, 2010


I now want more information on this subject, and I'm going to wait right here until it is found.
posted by seagull.apollo at 8:03 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


One liners, snark, and references to Mr. Traficant

In defense of references to James Traficant, the man was a quote machine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:03 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"“It’s sad to see an unemployed veteran be so naïve as to believe that using his savings to file for office is the best use of his money,” Fowler says."

Between that remark and the speculation that he only won because of where his name fell on the ballot, I have to say that the state Democratic Party Chairwoman is doing a pretty poor job. Even if she didn't think it a wise use of party resources to support this particular candidate, you'd think she'd at least refrain from actively attacking his intelligence and competence.

Does South Carolina have open (you can vote for candidates in either party) or closed (you can vote only within the party you registered with) primaries?

Hmm...South Carolina does have open primaries.
posted by jedicus at 8:04 AM on June 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


voters unfamiliar with both candidates chose alphabetically

This has probably been thought of before, but why not have the names randomized on the ballots (other than cost). Once electronic voting machines become the norm (ug), there'd really be no reason not to do that.
posted by deliquescent at 8:04 AM on June 9, 2010


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.

Seems fair.

Did they ever have a chance of winning with anyone?
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


South Carolina, why are you so hilarious?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:05 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


South Carolina, why are you so hilarious?

A very bad diet, poor in vitamins and minerals; virtually no cities (Charleston is lovely though) and illiteracy. Imagine a whole state full of Ignatius Rileys, except without any charm.
posted by fuq at 8:11 AM on June 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I am at loss to understand this but Mr. Greene will get my vote in the general election. Anyone has to be better than DeMint.
posted by Tashtego at 8:11 AM on June 9, 2010


Grar! I was so angry last night about this as I was following the returns. Not that I have any hope of Demint being beaten in November, but, Jesus H. Christ, what a waste.

And yes, we have open primaries, but the GOP gubernatorial race was pretty hotly contested, so the likelihood of crossover voting from Republicans to fuck with the results of the Dem primary seems pretty unlikely this time around.
posted by chiababe at 8:12 AM on June 9, 2010


Are primary voters usually so uninformed? I'd thought people voting in primaries were the motivated savvy voters.

In my experience, order on the ballot means a lot when people are unfamiliar with the candidates. For example, every two years I run about 200 small Democratic committee races. When 16 or so people vote in that race, name order can make or break an election. But in a statewide race that does not translate to a 16 point margin.

But, DeMint may be happy he is facing a broke an incoherent opponent, but how much happier would he be if he was facing an opponent who couldn't beat a broke and incoherent opponent.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:12 AM on June 9, 2010


This is what they mean when they say "we get the leaders we deserve".
posted by briank at 8:13 AM on June 9, 2010


I think this is less a question of voting based on the alphabet and more a reason why we should have "none of the above" as an option on a ballot.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:15 AM on June 9, 2010


He's not the hero we need. He's the hero we deserve.
posted by Vhanudux at 8:17 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know it won't happen, but I wish Greene would win in a landslide just so we could have the headline "Greene Creams DeMint".
posted by The Bellman at 8:18 AM on June 9, 2010 [50 favorites]


Doesn't this sound suspiciously like one of those Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock movies where a regular guy ends up going to Congress?
posted by jonp72 at 8:21 AM on June 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


“Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha,” tweeted Tea Party activist and Redstate blogger Erick Erickson after finding out about Greene’s victory.

They forgot to mention that he contributes to CNN.
posted by zarq at 8:24 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am a native South Carolinian; I left in 1989 for college and would not move back. This saddens me but doesn't really surprise me. I kind of want to say, "Hey fuq, lay off my home state!" but I agree with him mostly. Charleston is not only lovely, it has interesting politics too (Mayor Riley) but the rest of the state, *sigh* has problems.
I'm actually kind of relieved Vic Rawl lost - he can save his money because DeMint would have won anyway.
posted by pointystick at 8:28 AM on June 9, 2010


This quote is from the OP's fourth link:

In the early ‘90s, a Republican strategist was prosecuted and forced to pay a fine when he was found to have coaxed an unemployed black fisherman into running in a primary race to increase white turnout at the polls in a Lowcountry congressional race. The political operative paid the man’s filing fee.

What are the chances that similar shenanigans are going on now?
posted by The Potate at 8:30 AM on June 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Between that remark and the speculation that he only won because of where his name fell on the ballot, I have to say that the state Democratic Party Chairwoman is doing a pretty poor job. Even if she didn't think it a wise use of party resources to support this particular candidate, you'd think she'd at least refrain from actively attacking his intelligence and competence.

Not if she doesn't like him. One consequence of primaries is that whoever the voters pick is the nominee, no matter how badly they match up with what the party wants, no matter how much the actual party organization dislikes them, no matter nuthin'. You see parties actively campaigning against their own nominees every few years; the last time I can recall was when a no-shit Nazi eugenicist won the primary in a Memphis congressional district because the Republicans forgot to put at least one actual Republican on the ticket against the shoo-in Democratic incumbent.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:33 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


His $10,000 is going to look like a kick-ass investment stacked against the Hollywood options on his life story that are going to start pouring in any day now.
posted by Shepherd at 8:33 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It looks like the other Republican candidate was as much of a no-show as Alvin Greene. Here's her website.

If South Carolina has open primaries, which do you think is more likely? That the Democratic primary voters just "randomly" chose someone they'd never heard of over a state legislator who'd spent millions on advertising, or that there was an organized effort among Republican and Tea Party voters to elect a "joke" Democratic candidate because they felt that DeMint was a shoo-in for the Republican candidacy (or, possibly, because they felt that either Republican candidate would be fine) and thus they could just spend their vote sabotaging the opposition?
posted by luvcraft at 8:36 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Most of the local coverage of Mr Greene linked above broadly hints that the reporters and editors preparing the material strongly suspect that Mr. Green is a GOP ringer, a strawman funded by the Republicans. In one article, the writer notes an audit of Mr. Greene's finances was due in April; in another, a prior example of a similar ringer was cited.

Does anyone know if the audit was conducted and what they found? Additionally, a 16 point margin seems, well, improbable. I have an awareness of South Carolina politics as both dirty and nasty - could the GOP have essentially stuffed ballots that were counted in the Democratic primary? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by mwhybark at 8:38 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


What do you expect from the state that made this possible? Please note that I started the blog and my friend made the picture. That being said I'd still link it.

Now that that's out of the way, I can be a bit more serious. I was a bit sad that Jim Rex didn't win. It would have been nice to have an education person in office after 8 years of that other turd screwing over the system while his kids are in private school. I wouldn't be surprised if his plan all along was to get others to put their kids in private school so he could point to the numbers and say the schools suck and they shouldn't get money.

I was glad Nikki Haley did as well as she did. I hope she wins the run off, because then for governor we're either going to have a Democrat (which hasn't happen since 1998) or someone that has already endured being called a raghead and a whore by her own party.

November will be fun. And hopefully I'll be in Charleston by then.
posted by theichibun at 8:41 AM on June 9, 2010


Oh South Carolina, you are definitely the Weird One among the U.S. States.

Also, my sympathy and a friendly wave from far away (in Rational Land) to all the lonely South Carolina Democrats.
posted by bearwife at 8:42 AM on June 9, 2010


So, assuming dude is incoherent, etc. this is like a lose-lose situation for the Dems. We either get a Teabagger in the office, or someone who will mismanage things in such a way to reinforce stereotypes going back to the Reconstruction.

What a terrible example to prove the whole issue of democratic process requiring an informed population and our general failure of it.
posted by yeloson at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


the lengths that the extreme right will go to in order to subvert the democratic process are now apparent - if there was ever a justification for voting 3rd party, this is it - you can't vote for the tea party guy and i don't see how you can vote for someone this clueless and inappropriate

it puts the lie to all the rhetoric about freedom and choice the tea party likes to spew - what freedom! - what choice!

if the soviets had been smart this is how they would have done it - mr commissar against some poor fool who can't even be bothered to take his candidacy seriously - while the local opposition just lays down and pretty much takes it

what a cynical and utterly disrespectful ploy
posted by pyramid termite at 8:50 AM on June 9, 2010


Are primary voters usually so uninformed? I'd thought people voting in primaries were the motivated savvy voters.

They are. This not only fails the smell test, it stinks on ice. The feds need to look into this ASAP.

No offense to Mr. Green, but if you don't run any kind of campaign, and you win, either your opponent was caught with a dead body in his trunk, or someone rigged the result.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:51 AM on June 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


I live in SC and I voted for Alvin M. Greene. I have a hunch most people (myself included) went in to vote having no idea they would even be voting on that race. I pay attention to politics here and I had never heard any mention that the Democrats had anybody running against Jim DeMint, much less two. So I get into the ballot box and see that I have a grand total of three races to vote in. Governor, Superintendent of Education and Senator. (Republicans had several pages worth of stuff to vote on). So not knowing who either of these guy were, and knowing that 'Rawl' is a very common good-ole boy family name around town, I decided to go with somebody whose name I didn't know, and yes, he was first on the list of two. So there was some real solid logic going on… And honestly I'm feeling a little bit of shame in not having really done my civic duty in researching and trying to get the right candidate. However, the SC Democratic Party is pretty ineffectual and has a real hard time attracting quality candidates in this state, probably moreso this year and the idea that anyone could ever beat DeMint is ridiculous. There is just nobody in this state that has any appeal (that doesn't happen to be running for governor) and has any kind of name recognition, that would be willing to be sacrificed before the Tea Party altar.

I also never saw a single sign or ad for Greene's opponent, so I think a lot of the blame should go to the Party and Rawl for not even bothering to try to win the primary. Not sure what they were thinking on that one. If nobody knows who's running, of course it's going to be a crapshoot.
posted by petri at 8:51 AM on June 9, 2010 [22 favorites]


I think the biggest news here is that South Carolina aparently has a Democratic Party. Huh. Who knew?
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have an awareness of South Carolina politics as both dirty and nasty - could the GOP have essentially stuffed ballots that were counted in the Democratic primary?

I don't think anyone suspects actual ballot stuffing, but I believe there is a lot of suspicion that Mr. Greene may have been recruited and possibly funded by the Republicans in order to make DeMint's reelection a cakewalk as opposed to merely a sure thing. I have yet to hear of any proof of that suspicion though.
posted by ND¢ at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2010


Oh, in fact, just last week the South Carolina Republican party sued to close the state's primaries. Maybe someone is "setting an example" of how the open primary system can be abused, which serves the dual purpose of letting DeMint sweep the election and also present a case of the sort of "perfectly legal meddling" their lawsuit wants to stop.
posted by luvcraft at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I have a hunch most people (myself included) went in to vote having no idea they would even be voting on that race."

Well that is a serious failing by the party in the age of war dialers, mass mailings and email.
posted by Mitheral at 8:56 AM on June 9, 2010


Are primary voters usually so uninformed? I'd thought people voting in primaries were the motivated savvy voters.

It's possible everyone was really keen on voting for gubernatorial candidates and didn't much care about the Senate race.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:57 AM on June 9, 2010


Also, we don't have open primaries here. When you go in, you tell them which primary you want to vote in. You don't have to be registered with a specific party, but you do have to choose. And by choosing, you get to vote in any runoffs for that party, but not for the other party.
posted by petri at 9:01 AM on June 9, 2010


Respectfully, petri, you're an anecdote, not data. A 16% win for Greene assumes an awful lot of people Christmas-treed the ballot. And the fact that the unemployed Greene somehow managed to find ten grand just lying around to enter a political contest he then proceeded not to put any effort into winning make the whole thing smell incredibly fishy to me.

I've been at the same job for eight years and get paid a fairly decent middle class wage, but I'd have to take out a second mortgage or refinance my current mortgage to swing that kind of cash. Something stinks here, whether ballot stuffing played any role or not, this doesn't make sense.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:01 AM on June 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


This whole thing isn't quite passing the smell test with me, but...why would anyone engage in shenanigans to make sure this guy is on the ballot? Isn't DeMint supposed to win, no matter who he's up against? Why bother with this guy? What's the point?
posted by Salieri at 9:07 AM on June 9, 2010


This whole thing isn't quite passing the smell test with me, but...why would anyone engage in shenanigans to make sure this guy is on the ballot? Isn't DeMint supposed to win, no matter who he's up against? Why bother with this guy? What's the point?

A $10,000 investment by DeMint now prevents him from having to spend hundreds of thousands in a heated campaign later.
posted by cloeburner at 9:09 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll admit that I hadn't even heard of Rawl until his campaign twitter account started following me about a month ago, so it's definitely disappointing the SC Dem Party didn't make a bigger effort to get his name out there.

However, I made an effort this week to figure out what I'd be voting for and trying to at least get an idea about each of the candidates, right down to the county auditor. However, it was not super easy, and I can certainly imagine less tech-savvy and politically aware folks having a difficult time doing so, not to mention the large percentage of people in the state who simply do not have regular internet access and thus have to rely on local media for their information. We have a state-run website that lets you pull up your voter registration information, including Congressional district, County Council district, etc, etc. With that information available, I think it would be trivial to provide voters with a clear list of what exactly they'll have to vote on based on precinct, but instead, you have to do your own research, which most people just aren't going to do if it involves more than 5 minutes.

I made my decision to vote for Rawl because of his clear policy position on net neutrality, and the fact that I couldn't find a website for Greene, which made me think he wasn't a serious candidate. Seems like I was right, but it doesn't matter now.
posted by chiababe at 9:10 AM on June 9, 2010


why would anyone engage in shenanigans to make sure this guy is on the ballot?

Because the anti-incumbent sentiment that's been much ballyhooed lately isn't limited to one party.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, we don't have open primaries here. When you go in, you tell them which primary you want to vote in. You don't have to be registered with a specific party, but you do have to choose.

That's exactly what an open primary is.
posted by chiababe at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isn't DeMint supposed to win, no matter who he's up against? Why bother with this guy? What's the point?

Also, that's not nearly as clear-cut as some are trying very hard to suggest. Recent polls had shown Rawl polling within seven points of DeMint, with DeMint failing to receive the 50% needed to be elected. The race wasn't the sure thing for DeMint it's now being made out to be by any stretch. One untimely scandal might have been enough to swing the race in Rawl's favor.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:15 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry "failing to receive the 50% needed to be elected" should read "just barely receiving the 50% needed to be elected."
posted by saulgoodman at 9:18 AM on June 9, 2010


That's exactly what an open primary is.

Ah, sorry. I guess i was thinking of super-duper open primary.
posted by petri at 9:21 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, that's not nearly as clear-cut as some are trying very hard to suggest. Recent polls had shown Rawl polling within seven points of DeMint, with DeMint failing to receive the 50% needed to be elected.

Excellent, thank you. That makes sense. I'm not familiar with SC politics, and I was assuming it was indeed a sure thing based on what people were saying.
posted by Salieri at 9:28 AM on June 9, 2010


"gubernatorial"
posted by notyou at 9:28 AM on June 9, 2010


Whoever set this up must be pretty wealthy, because only someone accustomed to having easy access to large sums of money would be insensitive enough to the practical value of $10,000 to think anyone would casually drop this much cash and not put forth any serious effort to see that it wasn't wasted.

$10,000 is nearly half as much as most individuals earn in a typical year of work. ("The median income per household member (including all working and non-working members above the age of 14) was $26,036 in 2006." Source.)
posted by saulgoodman at 9:34 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Ah, sorry. I guess i was thinking of super-duper open primary.

A closed primary is when you can only participate in the election of candidates of the party you are registered with. In contrast, there are degrees of openness in open primaries: You might be able to participate in any one (but only one) party's election, regardless of your own affiliation or non-affiliation. At the other extreme, anybody can vote for anybody in any party's primary. What you described was the less-open end of the spectrum. No worries.
posted by ardgedee at 9:34 AM on June 9, 2010


This has probably been thought of before, but why not have the names randomized on the ballots (other than cost). Once electronic voting machines become the norm (ug), there'd really be no reason not to do that.

That's what they do in California. And actually CA just passed a ballot initiative to primary campaigns in a totally crazy way from now on. There are going to be neither open nor closed primaries. There's just going to be one primary that everyone gets to vote in, and then the top two vote getters go on to the general election. So you could actually have two republicans or two democrats in the general.

That's actually just how runoff elections work but normally you'd have a primary or some way of picking a Dem/Rep candidate before the election with the runoff. So essentially no more partisan primaries at all.

It actually may be a better system, but it's very, very unusual.
posted by delmoi at 9:35 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]



I firmly believe he was created by the GOP.

There is NO FUCKING WAY a guy like this just has $10,000. He's probably been instructed by the same people who gave him the money to not file disclosure. Because a little digging would probably reveal a GOP who paid him for gutter repair, or mowing his lawn.

Why $10,400? Because someone gave him $10,000 and when he was told how he was supposed to set up the campaign account, he threw in the money from his last unemployment check. That, in my opinion, stinketh to high heaven. Then, with open primaries, the R's vote for the spoiler, a bunch of the African American population casts their vote for who they think is one of the greatest R&B singers of all time... and you have a cakewalk for the election.

It's like when that one country got caught with the mechanism in the fencing foil. They were going to win anyway? Why would they do something dirty and risk it anyhow?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:41 AM on June 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is a golden opportunity for the people of SC to do what we Washingtonians did so proudly in 1968 with the Richard A. C. Greene campaign.

Greene had to withdraw a few days before the election because it looked like he was possibly going to win.
posted by warbaby at 9:41 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I woke up this morning in Los Angeles, and there was this odd chattering sound coming through the windows. At first, I didn't notice it on a conscious level. Background noise, like the traffic on the 5 and the birds that manage to thrive nearby without choking on the fumes.

Around the time I sat down, bagel in hand, and turned on my computer, the sound had risen to my consciousness. I had little need to wonder what it was, as I pulled up this thread: the sound of hundreds of thousands of would-be screenwriters all churning out an outline for a fictional version of this election, where Greene wins due to the sheer volume of mocking and entitlement coming out of the Republican side.
posted by davejay at 10:12 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this is less a question of voting based on the alphabet and more a reason why we should have "none of the above" as an option on a ballot.

I hope some resident can confirm this for me, but I remember that the ballot in Tennessee back in the 1990's had this box and the story was that if "None of the above" got the most votes the whole election would get redone.

This primary made me miss that little box more than I've missed anything from Tennessee in a long time. You can call me out on this if you like, but I made a conscious decision to stay home in lieu of registering agreement with any of the candidates.

I've referred to it as Petigru's Curse before, but this year the crazy is flying around so hard and fast even my jaded eyes are stinging.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:17 AM on June 9, 2010


Background noise, like the traffic on the 5 and the birds that manage to thrive nearby without choking on the fumes.

Actually, what you thought was traffic on the 5 was a cavalcade of would-be documentarians heading for South Carolina like their asses were on fire.
posted by Shepherd at 10:19 AM on June 9, 2010


the sound of hundreds of thousands of would-be screenwriters all churning out an outline for a fictional version of this election, where Greene wins due to the sheer volume of mocking and entitlement coming out of the Republican side.

Wasn't that subject pretty well covered in Your Modern Ways Confuse Me: the True Story of Governor Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:20 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


And actually CA just passed a ballot initiative to primary campaigns in a totally crazy way from now on. There are going to be neither open nor closed primaries. There's just going to be one primary that everyone gets to vote in, and then the top two vote getters go on to the general election. So you could actually have two republicans or two democrats in the general.

It's not totally crazy. It's how we've been doing it in Washington since 2008, and it appears to be working. The Dems and GOP sued to eliminate the original blanket primary, but that just pissed off the voters, who proceeded to vote in Initiative 872 to institute the current "top two" system.

In between there was a open primary system where people had to choose a party, which led to the pissing off. Washington has a undercoat of libertarianism both parties try to paint over but always comes out moment they start to scratch it.

Funny, too, given that the Libertarians have struggled to gain any foothold in the state. What you end up seeing instead is a socially liberal, fiscally conservative streak amongst the voters that plays out in voting in anti-politics-as-usual initiatives at the drop of a hat.
posted by dw at 10:20 AM on June 9, 2010


notyou: ""gubernatorial""

Get it right "GOOBERnatorial"
posted by symbioid at 10:21 AM on June 9, 2010


I have a crazy feeling this guys gonna win against DeMint somehow. The main problem I'm seeing at the moment is that a) he has absolutely no ability to speak to the press, which is not surprising, considering how stupid and flustered most of us would sound if a pack of reporters (or even one modern "journalist" [yes, that is contempt in my typing]) were to approach us and ask us questions we hadn't been prepared to answer; b) he's trying to sound like what he's seen on T.V. but has had zero training in public speaking. We're talking about someone who probably though debate was for fast talking over-achieving nerds. Though, more than likely, the school he went to probably didn't have a debate team. 13 year military veteran. He joined up straight out of high-school. No college, no connections with people who talk fast and live in the hyper-media world that 24/7 cable news reporting creates. Of course he's going to seem incoherent. He talks too slow for them to pay attention long enough to get the whole thought.

And strangely, I believe it that he's probably run his whole campaign by himself, with no donations. He might have even gone around house to house asking people for votes. With no PR hack to go set up publicity stunts to make him look like the flash and sizzle that most candidates try and do, he had plenty of time to go all over the place in the past few months. And none of the reporters seem to have bothered to ask to hang out and follow him. That would have been really simple, eh? Just hang out for a week, see what he does. If he sits at home and watches T all day, well, there's your story, end of story. If he actually, you know, does the work without asking for the press release style acclaim, well, holy cow, he's the real deal, and you've got an even better story.
posted by daq at 10:41 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


From the Mother Jones article:

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.

He's unemployed with a self-funded campaign. How did he afford to criss-cross the state? Who paid for his gas, food, hotels? Why can't he name one place he visited? I don't buy that he is just unpolished but a really hard worker.
posted by ND¢ at 10:56 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Greene had to withdraw a few days before the election because it looked like he was possibly going to win."

Are you sure? Your link says he lost by 800K votes. Googling suggests he concluded the election as well.
posted by artifarce at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2010


It looks like this Greene might have to withdraw too.
posted by Tashtego at 11:10 AM on June 9, 2010


So he went from house to house asking for donations and peoples votes whilst also showing them porn?
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on June 9, 2010


South Carolina is a crazy ass friggin' state.

Only Southern state I've ever been too. An ex-girlfriends sister and her husband lived in Greenville/Spartenburg, and oh boy...I can't even make up some of the behavior and dysfunction. People, especially young people seem to have three routes to transcendence and not much else except fried chicken and grits (which I love btw) and the are: Religion, religion, religion, that good ole time religion, booze, booze, booze and affairs or swingin' with the wives and husbands of friends.

And incredible boredom.

These were my impressions. How close or off am I?
posted by Skygazer at 11:12 AM on June 9, 2010


The unemployed veteran posted bond after his arrest.

So this unemployed vet and illegible to be elected felon was able on his own to swing enough cash both to post bond and to run for office with the extra ten grand he just happened to have left over?

SC Republican slime: I hope you can see this because I'm doing it as hard as I can.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:16 AM on June 9, 2010


Fuq: Imagine a whole state full of Ignatius Rileys, except without any charm.

I'm sorry FUQ, but Ignatius J. Reilly, was a scholar and a gentleman. A lover and a pacifist. A visionary and a humanist, even. So I'm not getting the comparison to the confederacy flag flying in their windows populace of SC.
posted by Skygazer at 11:17 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"illegible" --> "ineligible" (not that that corrects my mangled sentence construction)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:17 AM on June 9, 2010


Uh, I hate Republicanism and the Tea Party as much as the next person, but if this guy really did get hired to be a spoiler candidate then I'm not exactly harboring fantasies that he'll win in some sort of ironic backlash vote.

Basically he'd be a republican with even more susceptability to financial corruption, and a (D) after his name to shift the blame.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:19 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


My ultra liberal bi poly Catholic ex was born and raised and still lives near Clemson, not far from the Greenville/Spartanburg area. She regularly laments the craziness of SC politics. Asheville, NC is a fairly popular escape for liberals in that part of SC, I think. Atlanta too, though that's a bit farther. The times I visited there, it didn't seem like too horrible a place but then I didn't have to actually live there.
posted by kmz at 11:24 AM on June 9, 2010


So if this guy was a spoiler candidate, how did they manage to get him elected. Is the alphabetic advantage really worth 16 points?
posted by delmoi at 11:27 AM on June 9, 2010


delmoi and dw, re Top Two primaries/runoffs:

Top Two is better than party primaries, but it could be improved. With Single Vote, there is still an incentive to vote for one of the two main parties, and there can still be a spoiler problem of a divided opposition.

Election theory is a hobby horse of mine so I'll try to keep this short, but a better runoff would be to use a Score (AKA Ratings) ballot for the primary, with a range of, say, 0 (fully disapproved) to 9 (fully approved) for each candidate. On a standard optical ballot, you would have, essentially, N separate elections, one for each candidate. Each candidate's score is independent, so you could give a full score of 9 to as many candidates as you like, or a lesser score to indicate partial preference.

The neat thing about a score ballot is that you could interpret the totals several different ways, and have more than two candidates in the general election besides just the candidates with Top Two total score. For instance, you could find the Bucklin winner, allowing multiple candidates per rank, down to an approval cutoff of 5. This is sort of like a progressive or backup Approval method -- don't count my lower approval preferences unless my higher ones don't get a majority.

You could then include the Bucklin winner; any candidate with total score sum of 50% or greater, or greater than or equal to the Bucklin winner's; and any candidate with total approval (scores >= 5) of 50% or greater or greater than or equal to the Bucklin winner's.

In practice, you might get two or three candidates per runoff, but you could get more in a divided field with lots of unknowns.
posted by Araucaria at 11:31 AM on June 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


He's unemployed with a self-funded campaign. How did he afford to criss-cross the state?

My reading of that Mother Jones article is that they don't believe he did.
posted by smackfu at 11:46 AM on June 9, 2010


After posting bond for a felony charge he still hasn't been indicted for only days before, this unemployed military vet somehow still managed to find enough spare change under the sofa cushions to pay the $10,000 fee required to run for office.

Only in America, AMIRITE?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:52 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This stinks to high heaven, and it is an embarrassment to South Carolina that anyone would believe this is anything but shenanigans for even one fleeting moment.

Also, how did Haley completely teflon herself against not 1 but 2 sexual scandals so close to the day of the election? Accusations from fellow conservatives, mind.
posted by discountfortunecookie at 11:53 AM on June 9, 2010


My ultra liberal bi poly Catholic ex

Criminy, that reads more like a Starbucks order than a person.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:54 AM on June 9, 2010 [14 favorites]


To people saying that the Democratic party should have done more to get their preferred candidate's name into people's heads: are they allowed to do that? Technically, isn't a primary the means by which a party decides what candidate to endorse?
posted by roll truck roll at 12:00 PM on June 9, 2010


Doesn't have to be an endorsement; the publicity could be of a "Meet the Candidates" nature. It's good for the party and for the voters.
posted by Mitheral at 12:16 PM on June 9, 2010


This reminds me of the scene in BSG when Roslin stole the election and then the former prison riot leader who is running Baltar's campaign is like, I know elections, and she fucking stole the election dude.
posted by angrycat at 12:29 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even RedState thinks the whole Greene thing is fishy. "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?"
posted by ND¢ at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2010


Criminy, that reads more like a Starbucks order than a person.

I'd like a Venti ultra liberal bi poly 2% Catholic ex mochaccino with a shot of espresso, please. And four Splendas.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interestingly enough, the phrase "non-fat" would have taken on a whole new meaning if I'd included it in that last comment.
posted by zarq at 1:35 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I noticed the first comment on that Red State link says "Because he’s black, he got 100% of the black vote..." How would anyone have known whether he was or not? He didn't even have a website. The idea that black voters will only vote for black candidates isn't true either. This link shows that Obama, who had a somewhat more robust campaign than Mr. Greene, only garnered 80% of the black vote in the 2008 primary.
posted by Tashtego at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


“I want to thank all my supporters for making history in South Carolina,” [Greene] said. “It's been over 100 years since a black has won the nomination of a major party to the U.S. Senate from this state.”

Is this true?
posted by discountfortunecookie at 2:08 PM on June 9, 2010


IIRC, Richard AC Greene withdrew on the Friday before the election. But I'm getting old and maybe my memory is faulty. I've got a distinct memory of hearing it on KOL-AM, but you know how eyewitness testimony is. The excerpt from Lorenzo's book is incomplete (the book itself appears to have disappeared off the face of the planet.) My dad was one of the crew of media people who hung out at the Deluxe Tavern (around the corner from the Harvard Exit) who pumped up Greene's campaign.

The role of about a dozen reporters, columnists, radio people, etc in putting the campaign before the public was never disclosed much, though Lorenzo mentions it in passing. Emmett Watson, a much beloved columnist at the Seattle Times certainly plugged Greene's campaign for all it was worth.

1968 was an incredibly divided campaign year, much like it is now. There were a lot of splinter candidates and protest votes, the most prominent of whom was George Wallace. Like Perot for Clinton, Wallace probably had a significant effect in throwing the election to Nixon. In '68 there was a huge inter-elite conflict between the old guard (and intensely corrupt) Repos and the young Turks under liberal R, Dan Evans. Read Chambliss' On The Take for some of the deeper dirt on that mess.

Now it's the Tea Party, but the dynamic.

As far as all the people in this thread making stuff up about Alvin Greene being a Republican spoiler with illegal financial backing, I suggest that somebody put up something other than vacuous speculation to support this conspiracy theory.

Similarly, I don't buy the "ballot-order" theory. A couple of points, maybe. This much, not a chance. I've done post election stats analysis and have never seen ballot order with an effect much above noise levels.

The Democratic Party, particularly in states where it hasn't won major elections in years, is totally incompetent to have blown this election all by themselves. Based on what we've repeatedly seen, entrenched Dems are capable of fucking up a 15-ton iron ball using only their lips. They continue to stay classy.

What is clear is that nobody did any background on Alvin Greene, since he is still facing an outstanding felony charge. So don't start puffing up conspiracies until you've had a long hard look at corrupt incompetence on the mainstream candidate's part. Arrogant douche probably thought he was anointed for the slot.
posted by warbaby at 2:13 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now it's the Tea Party but the dynamic of inter-elite conflict is the same.

oops.
posted by warbaby at 2:14 PM on June 9, 2010


I noticed the first comment on that Red State link says "Because he’s black, he got 100% of the black vote..." How would anyone have known whether he was or not?

Blackdar?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:24 PM on June 9, 2010


> Blackdar?

Nah, I'm pretty sure the Daughters of the American Revolution doesn't have an African-American chapter in South Carolina.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:43 PM on June 9, 2010


Party asks nominee [Greene] with pending [Felony] charge to withrdraw

"The South Carolina Democratic Party has asked its U.S. Senate nominee, Alvin Greene, to withdraw from the race because he has a pending felony charge.

Greene, 32, was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student, according to the Associated Press. State Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler said Greene does not represent the party’s values.

“Our candidates want to give this state a new beginning without the drama and irresponsibility of the past 8 years,” Fowler said in a statement, “and the charges against Mr. Greene indicate that he cannot contribute to that new beginning. I hope he will see the wisdom of leaving the race."'

posted by anastasiav at 3:31 PM on June 9, 2010


well, that's pretty much a reason to have vote by mail right there. when we vote in oregon, we can google the hell out of each candidate, read their missives, and have a pretty good idea who's getting our vote. i can't say that everyone does their homework, but at least it's possible to do it. when you're sitting in a booth after standing in line for an hour, it's pretty hard to call up all of the reasons to vote for dog catcher a vs b.
posted by mrballistic at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2010


Also, how did Haley completely teflon herself against not 1 but 2 sexual scandals so close to the day of the election?

Because nobody could prove anything. She has said she will immediately resign if anyone can ever prove she has had an affair.
posted by Justinian at 4:31 PM on June 9, 2010


Dude needs to pull a Willie Stark. Nail 'em up!
posted by Rhaomi at 6:22 PM on June 9, 2010


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.[...]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.

This goes beyond being a poor public speaker, either he is nervous as hell just being interviewed by a reporter or else he has some sort of speech problem. Why would someone who could can barely speak coherently think being a politician is a good idea?
.
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.
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Oh wait...Sarah Palin
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:41 PM on June 9, 2010


zarq: "I'd like a Venti ultra liberal bi poly 2% Catholic ex mochaccino with a shot of espresso, please. And four Splendas."

Stop me if you've heard the one about the Buddhist who went to Starbucks to order cappuccino and said "make me whole with milk."
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:16 PM on June 9, 2010


Clyburn Alleges Conspiracy To Plant Candidates In Three Dem Primaries In S.C.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2010


There are now doubts being raised about a number of other questionable Dem candidates in the SC primary contest, at least one call for an investigation, and some reports of what may be related anomalies in precinct voting tallies.

I'm not fully convinced yet about the other candidates who are being singled out as suspicious; at least one of them actually did mount what appears be a real campaign (although, suspiciously, the candidate also filed no fundraising or expenditure info with the FEC, despite having paid for expensive TV adds during the campaign).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:36 AM on June 10, 2010


Oops. On preview, what (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates said.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:37 AM on June 10, 2010


He seems to have thrown together a website:

"Alvin Greene is the Democratic candidate for candidate in the 2010 Senate contest."
posted by chiababe at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2010


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: Clyburn Alleges Conspiracy To Plant Candidates In Three Dem Primaries In S.C.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:33 PM on June 10 [+] [!]



I so want this to be true in some ways... not really my anti-Republican leaning ways but my WTF Political Scandal LOL kind of way. And I know bad decisions aren't logical. But what's the point of all this work for a race that the Republicans were more than likely going to win anyway?

Seriously, I'm not snarking here. The fact that it seems unbelievable doesn't make it not true, but I really don't get the motivation if it is.


(I feel like I just said this same thing about scandals in SC last week.)

posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2010


But what's the point of all this work for a race that the Republicans were more than likely going to win anyway?

My best bet would be it's part of a strategy to peel the support of black voters in SC away from the Dems and to rekindle old suspicions often peddled in the South about the Democratic Party secretly still being the party of the KKK (there are a lot of people here in the South that still give that particular distortion of the historical record a lot of credence).

My guess is there's going to be a lot of sniping and sowing of distrust and confusion coordinated along with this developing story, meant to foster the impression that the Democratic party in SC is persecuting Greene and trying to undermine his candidacy (the legitimacy of which, in this version of the narrative, will be a given) simply because he's black, going to show the Dems are still the party of the KKK after all.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:08 PM on June 10, 2010


Also, see my comment above. DeMint was the favorite, but Rawl stood a fighting chance according to all the polling done in the lead up to the primary. It would have been a squeaker for DeMint, and squeakers cost a lot of money and can create other political problems even for a triumphant candidate.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:11 PM on June 10, 2010


Turn out it's just what it looks like. State lawmaker visits Greene, comes back and says he's for real and didn't know what he was getting into.
"I don't believe he's a plant," Sellers told TPMmuckraker in an interview after his meeting with Greene. "I think he just kind of doesn't know what he's getting into."
posted by warbaby at 4:54 PM on June 10, 2010


That same link has a pretty interesting interview with Greene.
posted by mwhybark at 5:34 PM on June 10, 2010


You know, dude should look into his near-namesake's catalog for campaign themes. I'm thinking "People Get Ready."
posted by mwhybark at 5:51 PM on June 10, 2010


So this guy, ordinary guy, maybe a little naive but well-intentioned, walks into a power vacuum...

Thinks anybody can be a Senator.

Roll the first reel of Mr Deeds Goes to Washington. Boy howdy, is that a fairy tale! In real life, it plays like this.

The SC Dems are really looking like some corrupt, privileged hacks and fools. Which makes them only a little bit better than the Repos.

Walter Karp had a lot of very pointed things to say in Indispensable Enemies about underdog political parties being very, very corrupt. Nothing like losing a lot of elections to really build a fine and upstanding political organization. Throw any election to stay in charge of their worthless little faction. "Death to the outsiders!," the hacks howl.
posted by warbaby at 6:25 PM on June 10, 2010


That same link has a pretty interesting interview with Greene.

Wow, that interview is bizarre-- there are so many red flags that it is hard to keep track of them.

First, his body language is very stiff, especially his mouth; he barely opens his mouth to speak and never once smiles or frowns. He keeps shaking his head from side to side as though distressed or trying to convey "No" through all of the interview. When asked specific questions, he sometimes looks up to the right (very often a reliable indication of lying) He finds it difficult to maintain eye contact. When asked why he would use a public defender when he had $10,000 available, he pauses and searches for the memorized answer. There is something so unnatural about him, he seems to take no joy in his victory and takes no interest in any of the questions he is asked, just answers robotically as if programmed.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:41 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


octobersurprise: "Call Daniel Vovak @"

Can you provide a better reason for posting some guy's phone number than a reference to a deleted Twitter post? I'm reasonably certain that this website is not the place to launch PII-based outing-and-harassment campaigns.

From looking at Vovak's Wikipedia page, I gather he's a literal tool. But I have never heard of the guy before. Has he been used as a conduit for stooge campaigns in the past?
posted by mwhybark at 9:52 PM on June 10, 2010


I heard another audio-only interview with him (it's online here on YouTube, though I won't vouch for the quality of the video; the audio's the relevant part).

At one point, the interviewer asks Greene where he got the $10,000 he used to file his candidacy.

Greene sounds really uneasy with the line of questioning and becomes conspicuously evasive; then amazingly, he pretends he has to interrupt the interview because he's getting a call on the other line.

In context, it's a completely transparent ploy to change the subject: he later doesn't even bother to carry the lie forward, completely dropping any pretense of having a call on the other line only moments later.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:57 PM on June 10, 2010


Removed Twitter account.

A call to Daniel Vovak (with archived Twitter post, including Vovak's number).
posted by mwhybark at 9:58 PM on June 10, 2010


Columbia, SC alt-weekly Free Times weighs in with The Manning-Churian Candiate.

I have to say, I keep reading things like this, a tone that I have noted in other local coverage:

When he speaks, it’s as though Greene is participating in some kind of linguistic steeplechase in which he always seems to trip over the hurdle and has a hard time climbing out of the waterhole.

and this (the technique of the literal transcription):

"Twice of our taxpayers dollars are on inmates than students," Greene said. "And so we need to get our priorities in order in South Carolina and across the country. Like my campaign slogan says: 'Let’s get South Carolina back to work.' My key issues is jobs, education and justice."

and this:

Standing in the shade of his garage, shuffling back and forth with a family of small, scruffy, dusty cats slithering around his feet, Greene said he wasn’t surprised about his win.

And what I think to myself is, damn, that is some patronizing shit. This guy makes the journalists of South Carolina uncomfortable. I mean, I'm sure the writers are putting down what they see and their reactions honestly. But, come on, he's not a child or a savant - he's a curiosity, sure enough. So is Rod Blagojevich, and I can't recall the literal transcription thing being used on him, or, for that matter, the adjective 'slithering.'
posted by mwhybark at 10:22 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


So I live in Charleston, and granted, I don't pay too much attention to local news, but I'd never heard of this guy until this post. It's barely even making news down here, which is odd. The Post And Courier, Charleston's daily newspaper, wrote an article, if you want to call it that. ABC affiliate has a slightly better article. Oddly, the FOX affiliate seems to be doing the best job so far, with some information besides the basics. They also had the articles up earliest of all the local news. The NBC affliate doesn't even seem to mention the weirdness of the campaign/candidate, just that he has an obscenity charge.

This whole thing is just so strange because nobody I've talked to has ever heard of this guy, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people down here still hadn't quite caught on to the oddity of the situation.

I can't speak to how likely it is that he's a GOP plant, but this whole thing is just weirding me out. I'm seriously tired of SC politics, and if Charleston weren't here I'd thing the whole state was a loss.
posted by This Guy at 4:51 AM on June 11, 2010


Every time that I think that my state's politicians are stupid, corrupt and ineffectual, I think "well at least it's not South Carolina" .
posted by octothorpe at 6:25 AM on June 11, 2010


From the Free Times article:

Theory two: Blacks spell Greene with an “e” on the end, and the average voter in a South Carolina Democratic primary is a black woman. Also, Greene’s name appeared above Rawl’s on the ballot and the name Rawl sounds like white Charleston aristocracy. Most voters didn’t know who Greene or Rawl was and Rawl didn’t campaign enough to earn high name recognition even though he certainly campaigned very hard throughout the state. A massively uninformed electorate chose the name Greene over Rawl and it’s just that simple.
. . .
Kevin Gray, a prominent black activist and author in South Carolina, says he voted for Greene. "When I was in the voting booth I looked at both those names," he says. "I'd seen Vic Rawl on Facebook before, but Alvin Greene, that name looked black."

I don't discount that the make-up of the electorate and the spelling of Greene's name (and maybe the ballot order) could have had something to do with his win, but a 16 or 17 point margin of victory? I just don't see it.
posted by ND¢ at 6:46 AM on June 11, 2010


None of the explanations offered so far are sufficient to account for how major a win this was for Greene--even taken all together, the various explanations (first name on the poll, black-sounding name) have a biasing effect on the result of between maybe one to five points, but if voters truly didn't know who either of the candidates were, the results should have been much closer to a 50-50 split. And the precincts Greene showed strongest in were majority white districts.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:52 AM on June 11, 2010


Some new info turned up by TPM, soon to be followed up with a more extensive report, seems to back Rep. Clyburn's allegations of a larger Republican plot to undermine the integrity of the SC Democratic primaries:
And the first rock we turned over we've found that the allegedly sham candidate running against Clyburn was paying a consultant tied to uber-winger Rep. Joe "You Lie" Wilson (R). And the one guy who gave him money also contributed to McCain. So since this guy was running in a Democratic primary, I'd say that pretty good prima facie evidence that Clyburn was on to something, at least about that guy.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:06 AM on June 11, 2010


From TPM: We'll have the piece for you shortly.

Not sure what "shortly" means, but I'm waiting on tenterhooks.

And what I think to myself is, damn, that is some patronizing shit. This guy makes the journalists of South Carolina uncomfortable. I mean, I'm sure the writers are putting down what they see and their reactions honestly. But, come on, he's not a child or a savant - he's a curiosity, sure enough

I think one of the reasons reporters are having difficulty writing about Greene is he does not seem to be fully compos mentis yet it would be irresponsible to attempt a diagnosis or label him as mentally unfit.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:46 AM on June 11, 2010


I think one of the reasons reporters are having difficulty writing about Greene is he does not seem to be fully compos mentis yet it would be irresponsible to attempt a diagnosis or label him as mentally unfit.

That was my impression as well. The Manning-churian candidate article had a quote at the end which stood out:
As the small crowd of family and friends dispersed an elderly neighbor beckoned for a reporter to come back behind his truck. He was shaking his head.

“He ain’t wrapped tight,” the man said gesturing toward Greene’s house. He said he hadn’t voted for Greene and couldn’t believe what had happened.

“I ain’t know how the hell he got all them damn votes, though,” he said. “He got a pile of damn votes.”

The man looked back at Greene’s house with a twisted smile on his face. “I don’t understand that,” he said. “All them damn votes he had.”

The man paused and shook his head slowly as the dying sunlight filtered through the trees.

“Something ain’t right,” he said.

posted by zarq at 8:51 AM on June 11, 2010


War Room post over at Salon:
Obviously, it's still very possible that horrible things will emerge about Greene, and make me look like an idiot for writing this. (In fact, he already is accused of fairly horrible things -- though not convicted.) In the meantime, though, it's satisfying to see something as lower-case-democratic as a random black guy winning for no clear reason. We may not be able to interpret votes for Greene as any affirmative popular endorsement of whatever his candidacy stands for. But we sure can read it as a rejection of the dull, hackish cynicism of the Democratic Party and its expectation that South Carolinians will vote for some un-embarrassing non-entity. And if nothing else, that's kind of fun.
posted by warbaby at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2010


Here's that follow-up report on what may be related shenanigans in the SC primaries from TPM, Secret Life of Gravy.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:29 AM on June 11, 2010


But we sure can read it as a rejection of the dull, hackish cynicism of the Democratic Party and its expectation that South Carolinians will vote for some un-embarrassing non-entity. And if nothing else, that's kind of fun.

No we can't. Not when it's a scam.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And one of the real ironies in the developing story about Brown, one of the other possibly fraudulent candidates identified in the SC primaries, is that the Republican operative he's been linked to has spent most of his career working for... Joe "You Lie!" Wilson. Or I suppose that just proves Brown's (failed) campaign must have been on the up and up, since Wilson holds truth in high enough regard to risk congressional censure in its name.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:37 AM on June 11, 2010


Saul, this is at the bottom of the follow-up report you link to:
Two African American Democratic legislators from Clyburn's district insist Brown was in no way shape or form a plant. State Rep. Wendell Gilliard is listed on Brown's FEC report as a "consultant," and was paid $4,000 by the campaign. He told TPM it is "ludicrous," to suggest Brown is a plant. "Brown is out here like any American citizen ... Clyburn is just a politician that doesn't want anyone to run against him," Gilliard said.

Gilliard declined to say what the campaign payment was for -- and he said he never met Grisham, nor knew about his involvement in the Brown campaign -- but he insisted that Brown's campaign was completely on the level. State Sen. Robert Ford, who lost his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination on Tuesday night, told TPM that Brown had come to him two years ago to first discuss running against Clyburn.
Just because some people keep hollering "plant" doesn't seem to have any solid fact to back it up. Still waiting for somebody to do the shovel work and spend the shoe leather.
posted by warbaby at 11:23 AM on June 11, 2010


I agree, warbaby: Clyburn's broader allegations are not an open and shut case yet. But there's enough there already to raise warning flags. Republican consultants don't tend to work for Democratic candidates.

But one of the more common sense reasons I put some stock in Clyburn's accusations is this: he won the election anyway. He's got nothing to gain by going after his rival for the nomination now. If he didn't genuinely think there was a real issue here, he wouldn't bother.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2010


But we sure can read it as a rejection of the dull, hackish cynicism of the [South Carolina] Democratic Party and its expectation that South Carolinians will vote for some un-embarrassing non-entity.

Edited this way, and assuming an absence in the race of widespread voter fraud or cross-over voting with fraudulent intent (something I'll assume, for now, for the sake of my point), the sentence is more truthful, I think. Rawls was a non-entity. From the start his candidacy looked more like a party sinecure than anything else. I kept hearing that Rawls was only "7 points behind" DeMint but I haven't seen any of the polls that claim this and I don't believe for one minute that an elderly low country Democrat could take the upstate away from Jim DeMint. So yes, fraud aside, I do believe that some of the votes for Greene were cast in despair of the South Carolina Democratic Party having any desire or ability to recruit a vigorous, appealing candidate for a US Senate race. Better to lose entertainingly than listlessly is probably how that reasoning went. That isn't a very responsible approach to a race, but it isn't surprising, either. If the party doesn't appear to take a race seriously, you can't fault the voters too much for failing to do so too.

(Oh, hey, mods? No hard feelings or anything, but if you choose to delete a comment of mine, you might write a [comment redacted] noting such, because replies to a comment that isn't there just look weird.)
posted by octobersurprise at 11:36 AM on June 11, 2010


I kept hearing that Rawls was only "7 points behind" DeMint but I haven't seen any of the polls that claim this and I don't believe for one minute that an elderly low country Democrat could take the upstate away from Jim DeMint.

Here's a link to the poll.

And here and here is some previous discussion about how surprisingly vulnerable DeMint looked in the polling, and here's a discussion of the issue on FiveThirtyEight (and looking at the stats, Nate Silver also concludes some things don't look quite right).

Rawl had served twice in the SC legislature, and was a former district court judge.
That alone should have given him at least some name recognition in the districts he represented. So maybe he wasn't widely known, but he was much more widely known that Greene.

And the questions about Greene's $10,000 filing fee seem completely insurmountable: He eventually offered a vague explanation about he had saved the money. But if so, wouldn't he have spent the money on attorney fees and to post bond when he was arrested on the obscenity charge? Also, I understand he requested a public defender, which means he claimed at the time he was unable to afford an attorney. Do such claims require any form of verification of income or wealth?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:29 PM on June 11, 2010


sheesh. so many typos, so little time...
posted by saulgoodman at 1:30 PM on June 11, 2010


I'm not a big fan of Politico, but one of their reporters' blogs puts this last point pretty well:
In another interview, he hangs up when asked about how he quailfied as indigent soon before producing a $10,400 filing fee.
(It also notes he has yet to be able to name a single specific place he went when he did all the "old fashioned campaigning" he's vaguely claimed he did.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2010


Meet Insanely Unlikely SC Senate Candidate Alvin Greene

SC Democrats Ask: Where Did Alvin Greene get money to file for Senate primary?
posted by box at 7:23 AM on June 12, 2010


From that last link:
South Carolina has a history of political plants being placed in elections to skew turnout. In 1992, Republican operative Rod Shealy was convicted of hiring an African-American fisherman to run for congressional office in hopes of stimulating white turnout to help his sister get elected lieutenant governor. The case of Greene, who is African American, has reminded many here of the Shealy incident, though political sleuths have not come up with any logical meddler or motive.
Wow. So the SC Republicans have actually done something like this before. I hope there is a thorough investigation because more and more this is starting to smell.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:33 PM on June 12, 2010


Also, this commenter over on TPM noticed something that might be relevant to what in my mind at least is still the very open question of whether any actual election rigging took place:
Why is South Carolina running its e-voting election night return results through Europe?

http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=http://www.enr-scvotes.org

And why has South Carolina registered that domain through GoDaddy?
Apparently, there have been questions raised before about a similar technical issue during the 2004 elections.

Seems a bit tinfoil hatty to me at this point, but then again, congressional elections do have very high political and financial stakes.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:47 AM on June 14, 2010


Losing SC Senate candidate protesting
posted by ND¢ at 12:20 PM on June 14, 2010


Daily Show: Alvin Greene Wins South Carolina Primary.
posted by ND¢ at 7:39 AM on June 15, 2010


There is now a new thread on this topic.
posted by ericb at 4:19 PM on June 15, 2010


Alvin Greene presents a bold and innovative idea for fighting unemployment and improving South Carolina's (and perhaps the entire U.S.?) economy: They can make action figures of me. I assume the "They" means this would be a government operation. It's worth a try, certainly one of the less wasteful uses of government funds - his plan would work, the action figures are guaranteed to go flying off the shelves. Maybe he's thinking about selling a license for making Official Alvin Greene action figures to a toy company. Either way, it would be awful generous of him to just donate such a license to the state, or nation, as the case may be.

Official website has not been updated to include this policy proposal. Oddly, there's no mention of his support for a united Korea.

A black facing sex crime charges, running for national office in South Carolina has his work cut out for him. And a Democrat? That would make him a definite underdog.
posted by BigSky at 9:29 AM on July 8, 2010


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