Surprise S.C. Senate candidate to 'focus on the issues' vs. DeMint

Alvin Greene, who defeated four-term state senator Vic Rawl to become the Democratic Party's nominee against incumbent GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, says he spent less than $12,500 on his primary campaign.

Greene, a 32-year-old unemployed veteran, won nearly 59 percent of the vote in a stunning upset Tuesday that state and national Democrats have called into question.

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The little-known Greene offered a rare insight into who he is during an appearance Friday on the Armstrong Williams radio show, where he pushed back against accusations that he may have been elected in part by Republicans who used the open primary to field the weakest candidate they could against DeMint. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has suggested Greene is a "plant" whose filing fee may have been paid for by the GOP, and Rawl on Friday called for an investigation into the election results.

Greene, who has been unemployed for nine months, said he paid for the $10,500 filing fee from savings accrued during a 13-year military career and spent less than $2,000 campaigning.

"The money is there for me to run," Greene said. "I don't know why that's such a mystery for everyone. I'm just nine months out of service and I've saved for the last couple of years."

Greene also pressed the Democratic Party to support his candidacy. Instead, the state Democratic Party has called on him to quit the race because he is facing felony charges for allegedly showing pornography to a college student.

"I need the support I'm supposed to have as the nominee," said Greene, who called himself a faithful Democrat who voted for President Barack Obama and even contributed to his campaign.

Greene also told Williams that he found out he'd won when the local media called him at home in Manning, where he lives with his ailing father.


Other than that, Greene offered extremely vague answers about his win, his platform and his plan to beat DeMint.

Asked to describe his campaign, he said: "Nothing fancy, just hard work."

Does he think people knew who he was when they voted for him? "They researched me on the Internet."

Why did people vote for him? "They identified with me and my message, and the issues."

Asked to expand on his campaign slogan of "jobs, education and justice," Greene said he wants to restart Department of Transportation projects he said have laid dormant since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, such as the widening of I-74. He also supports an "energy bill that reduces the cost of energy" and helps develop "alternative sources of energy."

As for the justice component, Greene said the U.S. spends twice more on inmates than students.

"We need to make sure the punishment fits the crime. We need to get our priorities in order."

The vague retorts continued when Williams asked him about the campaign against DeMint.

How many people are staffing his campaign?

"About a handful."

His strategy for winning in November?

"Focus on the issues."

Has he gotten any financial support from any individuals or businesses since Tuesday's win? No.

At that point, a patient Williams gently rebuked Greene and told him: "Man, you've got to get busy."

Williams also gave Greene several chances to explain the pornography charge, telling him this was his chance to come clean in his own words. But Greene demurred.

"My lawyers are handling that," he said, "and that's being worked on."

For all the evasiveness, callers to the show made it clear they supported Greene and were fed up with establishment Democrats at the state and federal level, preferring an out-of-work veteran they can relate to. They told him to "get on the ball" and warned him that both Democratic and Republican operatives "will eat you alive."

"I'll be mailing you my little chicken change, too," vowed one supporter.