06.09.10

A Frank Capra Tale Collapses

Alvin Greene, the unemployed veteran who stunned political observers by winning the Democratic nomination for the Senate in South Carolina, is reportedly facing felony charges and is being asked to step down by his state party. Benjamin Sarlin reports.

What began the day as a quirky news story is taking a darker turn as Alvin Greene, the 32-year-old who won the Democratic Party’s Senate nomination in South Carolina despite raising no money, is reportedly charged with a felony crime. The AP reports Greene was arrested in November and faces unspecified charges carrying a maximum of five years in jail stemming from an alleged incident in which he showed pornographic material to a college student and discussed gaining access to her dorm.

The State Democratic Party chairwoman, Carol Fowler, told The Daily Beast she phoned Greene earlier today to ask him to step down in light of the news.

“I have asked him to withdraw from the race,” she said. “I didn’t get a yes or no answer—he said he had to hang up and I haven’t been able to reach him again.”

Fowler said Greene complained of being inundated with calls and visits from reporters, saying, “My phone keeps ringing, my phone keeps ringing, people are coming to my house.” She said that he called her at one point to say that ABC News reporters had suggested he ask her for money for his campaign. “I didn’t volunteer any money,” she told The Daily Beast.

Greene did not return multiple requests for comment.

Greene defeated former state legislator Vic Rawl to get his party’s nomination, a shocking upset given that Greene had done virtually no visible campaigning, filed no financial disclosure reports, and told reporters he had raised no money. He told Mother Jones he posted the $10,400 fee to get on the ballot himself.

Greene has not been embraced by either the state or national party. His name is nowhere to be found on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee website, which lists Jim DeMint as having no apparent challenger and a spokesman for the DSCC did not immediately return a request for comment.

South Carolina election law states that a candidate can petition to drop out of a race for “legitimate non-political reasons,” according to a spokesman for the state election commission. If state election officials approve their withdrawal, a new primary is held after a brief filing period for candidates to get on the ballot.

A source close to Rawl said that “if there’s a new primary, Vic would look very strongly at running again.”

Fowler said she was still unsure whether a new primary could be held.

“I guess imminent sentencing to jail might be a ‘legitimate non-political reason,’ but I just don’t know.”

Benjamin Sarlin is Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.