Unknown Senate candidate faces felony charge

Alvin greeneThe night of his victory in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, U.S. Senate candidate Alvin?Greene didn’t have much to say. Asked how he managed to defeat a four-term lawmaker who the party establishment figured would cruise to an easy win, the mysterious Greene had no insights.

Instead, the 32-year-old unemployed military veteran repeated the same, flat statement Tuesday about the importance of creating jobs and cutting down on the state’s high jobless rate.

Now, thanks to his shocking win, he has the attention of state and national Democrats who also found out he faces a felony obscenity charge. After The Associated Press reported that on Wednesday, the leader of the state Democratic party said she asked Greene to withdraw from the race against Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint.

Greene refused.

“The Democratic Party has chosen their nominee, and we have to stand behind their choice,” Greene told an AP reporter at his Manning childhood home, which he shares with his father. “The people have spoken. We need to be pro-South Carolina, not anti-Greene.”

Greene, who did no fundraising and had no ads or website, had been considered such a long shot that neither his opponent nor the media bothered to check his background.

Court records say he was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student, then talking about going to her room at a university dorm.

Charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity, Greene could face up to five years in prison. He has yet to enter a plea or be indicted.

Vic Rawl, the former state legislator and judge whom officials had expected would win, said he didn’t know about Greene’s charge before the AP report. The college student Greene was accused of showing the obscenty described the encounter to the AP.

“I said, ‘That’s offensive,’ and he sat there laughing,” said Camille McCoy, a rising sophomore who said Greene sat down next to her in a computer lab and asked her to look at pornographic photos on his screen. “He said, ‘Let’s go to your room now.’ It was kind of scary. He’s a pretty big boy. He could’ve overpowered me.”

McCoy called campus police and picked Greene out of a photo array. Greene has posted bond on the charge, which carries a punishment of up to five years in prison.

Refusing to discuss the pending charge, Greene says he’s ready to get the message out about his platform, whose three main points ? jobs, education and justice ? were listed on a green campaign flyer he told a reporter he couldn’t have because it was his only copy.

“I need my state and national party to help me,” Greene said. “See, I don’t have any signs. Those take campaign contributions.”

South Carolina state law prohibits convicted felons from serving in state office. Felons can serve in federal office, although the U.S. House or Senate could vote to expel any member deemed unfit to serve.
Meanwhile, questions abounded in the day-after deconstruction of Greene’s win.

Had Rawl been a victim of the anti-incumbent sentiment that swept the state’s primaries? He only carried four counties, but one was Charleston, where he serves on county council.

It might come down to the simple fact that his name was listed before Rawl’s on the alphabetized ballot, a possibility state Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler said she pondered Tuesday night.

Even if Rawl had been successful, one analyst was skeptical it would have made a difference against DeMint, a tea party darling who has marshaled a $3.5 million war chest to win his second term.

“A lot of it speaks to the lack of depth of the bench for the Democratic Party in South Carolina right now,” said Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University. “Their best shot in November, really, is the Governor’s Mansion.”

Associated Press Writers Seanna Adcox in Columbia, Jeffrey Collins in Manning and researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report.

Source: The Associated Press.