S.C. Dems ask Senate nominee to withdraw after felony charge

Less than 24 hours after Alvin Greene’s surprise win in the South Carolina Democratic Senate primary, the state party has asked him to withdraw from the race because of a pending felony charge.

“Today I spoke with Alvin Greene, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, and asked him to withdraw from the race,” Carol Fowler, chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said in a statement.

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The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Greene is facing felony charges for displaying pornographic pictures to a University of South Carolina student.

Fowler said she didn’t take her decision “lightly.”

“I believe strongly that the Democratic voters of this state have the right to select our nominee,” she said.

“But this new information about Mr. Greene would certainly have affected the decisions of many of those voters.”

The party said that as of Wednesday afternoon it had not received a response from Greene.

The candidate could not be reached for comment. He declined to comment on the charges to the AP.

Greene posted bond after his arrest in November for showing the obscene Internet photos to the young woman, according to the report. Though Greene has yet to enter a plea or be indicted, if convicted, he could be imprisoned for up to five years.

In an earlier interview with The Ballot Box, Greene declined to comment about his pending charges, but admitted he was surprised with the results of Tuesday’s vote. At the time of the interview, the party had not called for his resignation.

He said his chances against Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) were good because “this is a dire time in South Carolina and the U.S.”

Greene stunned observers Tuesday when he won the nomination. He raised no money and put up no campaign website but beat former four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl 59 percent to 41.

— Eden Stiffman


S.C. Republicans get a second chance to vote

South Carolina may be a conservative Southern state, but Republicans there found little to agree on when they went to the polls Tuesday.

The GOP nominating contests for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, three House districts and even the race for superintendent of education went to runoffs.

Democrats, meanwhile, picked their nominees in those contests.

“There’s still two more weeks of grueling campaigning to go,” Joel Sawyer, executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, told The Ballot Box. He didn’t sound terribly excited about the prospect.

“The sooner we can get to beating up on Democrats, the better,” he said.

Republicans have some reason to be concerned about their primary campaigns going into overtime.

The GOP gubernatorial primary drew national attention after front-runner Nikki Haley was accused of having an extramarital affair by a conservative blogger and a Republican consultant working for GOP rival Andre Bauer’s campaign.

Haley had been endorsed by Sarah Palin, which only added to the media buzz. She vehemently denied both allegations.

If that wasn’t bad enough, a supporter of Bauer’s later called Haley a “raghead” on a radio program. Haley is of Sikh descent.

Shortly before the vote, Bauer announced he had passed a lie-detector test, which he claims is confirmation he didn’t have any involvement in the efforts to slime Haley. He called for Haley to take one.

Haley faces Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) in the June 22 runoff.

Some observers speculated the national party would try to force Barrett out of the race to allow the party to coalesce around Haley, but Sawyer said he expected the contest to continue.

“It appears there is going to be a runoff,” he said, but noted it will be one that focuses on “issues and ideas.”

He didn’t expect the so-called “gutter politics” to continue.

“It looks clear from the results [Tuesday] that voters rejected any attempts to distract from the issues,” he said.

The winner of the Haley-Barrett contest will face state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D) in the general.

On the House side, there’s an interesting GOP primary runoff in the 1st district between state Rep. Tim Scott and Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond, who’s the son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).
Scott, who’s African-American, had been running for lieutenant governor but switched to the House race. If elected, he would be the first black Republican in the House since Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.).

Democrats nominated perennial candidate Ben Fraiser to be their candidate.

There had been speculation that Food Lion heiress Linda Ketner, the party’s 2008 nominee, would run, but she opted to remain on the sidelines.
— S.J.M.


Dems gleefully tout Republican Party losses

Democrats continue to delight in the primary losses being racked up by National Republican Congressional Committee-backed candidates.

“After suffering a monthlong blistering litany of self-inflicted wounds and strategic mistakes, four more members of the NRCC Young Guns program lost their races last night to non-NRCC chosen candidates,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wrote in a memo Wednesday.

The DCCC pointed to former Iowa State University wrestling coach Jim Gibbons’s (R) loss in Iowa’s 3rd district as one example of a “highly touted” NRCC candidate going down.

But an NRCC strategist told The Ballot Box the committee had, in fact, hedged its bets in the race to unseat Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa).

The committee recruited both Gibbons and eventual primary winner Brad Zaun into the race, the strategist said. “Gibbons just happened to move up through the Young Guns program faster than Zaun.”

The committee is happy with Zaun’s candidacy because he has “a solid electoral base in and around the Des Moines area — something that Boswell lacks,” the strategist added.

Another strategist noted that in many cases, the NRCC pick going down is a blessing in disguise. “A lot of these cases, we’re ending up with stronger general-election candidates, no matter what,” that strategist argued.

The NRCC has over 100 candidates at various stages in its Young Guns training and promotion program. The lowest status in the program, “On the Radar,” is given to candidates who can basically “walk and chew gun,” the strategist said.

The strategist added that of the 10 recent primary losses for NRCC-affiliated candidates, only Idaho Republican Vaughn Ward had reached the full “Young Gun” status in the program.

— S.J.M.

Miller is a campaign reporter for The Hill.  He can be found on The Hill’s Ballot Box, located at thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box.