At his home Monday, Alvin Greene spent the day fielding phone calls, dozens of them from fans and reporters and bookers all across the country. Nearly a week earlier, he had pulled off a major upset, winning the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate from South Carolina, despite no real campaign. “People are willing to help me any way they can,” he said, after taking another call from someone hoping he can defeat the heavily favored incumbent, Sen. Jim DeMint, in the fall. “They call me because they are inspired by my campaign.”
But the coast is by no means clear for Greene to begin preparing his general election campaign. On Sunday, Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics In Washington announced plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the lack of disclosure reports in Greene’s campaign. (He has no apparent campaign organization to speak of.) In Charleston, meanwhile, his opponent in the Democratic primary, Vic Rawls, announced that he planned to file a protest to the election, which will be heard Thursday by the state Democratic Party. “The strange circumstances surrounding Tuesday’s vote require a thorough investigation,” Rawl declared. “For better or worse, the protest process is the only platform available for that investigation.”
Rawl said that he expected Greene to be served with legal notice about a hearing Thursday in Columbia before the executive committee of the Democratic Party. The committee has the power to call a new election for the primary seat, though such a decision to throw out the vote is unlikely barring concrete evidence of fraud or voting machine malfunction, neither of which Rawl has yet produced. “They are very serious about elections,” Carol Fowler, the chair of state party, said of the members of the executive committee. “I don’t think suspicion would be enough.”
Rawl has been gathering anecdotal evidence of voter machine malfunction on election day, and he has acquired academic studies of the election that show the result was statistically unlikely, but by no means impossible. The electronic voting machines in South Carolina have a history of glitches, but no record to suggest that they could throw an election by as much as 30,000 votes, or 18 percent of the ballots cast, which was Greene’s winning margin. It is not known if Greene will appear at the hearing Thursday. He said Monday that he considered himself the rightful victor and planned to stay in the running through November.
There is another possibility that might complicate Greene’s candidacy. He has been indicted on obscenity charges in connection with legal charges for allegedly showing a teenage woman some pornography on a school computer. The time line for disposing of this case has not yet set, but it is possible that the outcome could further disrupt his candidacy. Under the constitution, there is nothing to prevent him from appearing on the ballot, even if he is serving time in prison on the day of the election.
In the meantime, Greene’s presence on the ballot continues to cause problems for the state Democratic Party, which is still declining to embrace Greene because of his indictment. “It’s a little more difficult to get the party behind someone who is under indictment for something truly distasteful,” said Fowler. A news conference planned for last week to bring Democratic candidates from around the state together to celebrate their chances was canceled owing to the Greene situation.
Greene has said that he is not guilty of the charges against him. The hearing Thursday to hear Rawl’s election protest has been scheduled for 3 p.m.