By Molly K. Hooper - 06/16/10 12:27 AM EDT
It’s unusual, especially in an election year, to hear Republicans coming to the defense of a Democrat who is aiming to take out one of their colleagues.
But that’s what happened on Tuesday when several South Carolina Republicans came to the aid of embattled 32-year-old Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene.
Rawl has appealed to the state Democratic Party to review last Tuesday’s results, and state Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler has asked Greene to step aside. The party is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss its nominee.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.) said the Democratic Party has been unfair to the political neophyte.
“It’s the Democratic Party that’s not treated him respectfully,” Wilson said.
The senior senator of the Palmetto State agrees.
“I hope people are not nasty toward Mr. Greene. He doesn’t deserve that,” Graham said.
But ever since he defeated Rawl in the primary, senior Democrats in the state have attacked Greene as a GOP plant.
Greene was recently charged with showing Internet porn to a 19-year-old college student. He has declined to answer questions about that felony charge, but has indicated he is innocent.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said recently that the whole situation smelled of “elephant dung.”
On Tuesday, Clyburn blamed faulty ballot machines for Greene’s landslide triumph. Greene, an unemployed veteran, paid the $10,440 primary entry fee, but it’s unclear how he had that much disposable cash. Greene said he saved the money from his time in the Army.
Many South Carolina Democrats have called for an investigation into what Clyburn has called election “shenanigans.”
But not all liberals are pointing the finger at the GOP.
Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, the left-leaning host of “The Daily Show,” mocked South Carolina Democrats on Monday by noting that Democrats voted for Greene. He added that if GOP officials were going to plant a candidate, they would have found one who actually campaigned.
Asked to respond to Stewart’s criticism of Democrats, Clyburn responded, “Ask [him] what happened in 1990.”
Clyburn told The Hill that a similar incident “absolutely” happened in 1990, “and someone was found guilty of it.”
In 1990, a GOP state operative, Rod Shealy, was convicted of breaking campaign laws when it was revealed that he ran as an unemployed black fisherman in a race for a GOP congressional seat in order to bolster support for his sister, who was then running for lieutenant governor.
Unlike other Democrats in South Carolina, Clyburn is not sure if the GOP is to blame.
In an interview on Fox News on Tuesday, he said, “[Greene] was someone’s plant. I do believe that very sincerely.”
Clyburn said the machines, which were used in 300 precincts statewide for last Tuesday’s primary, had been purchased secondhand from “Louisiana, of all places.”
They’re the same machines, he said, that Ohio refused to use in past election cycles “after they tested them extensively and found the results to be unreliable.”
Clyburn also said the machines were easily hacked.
However, Clyburn was not as critical of Greene as he had been in previous days, saying he knows Greene’s family personally and praising some of its members as “retired educators.”
He went on to say he wants to make sure that Greene and his family “have what they need.”
Meanwhile, Wilson denied that his party had anything to do with Greene’s victory.
“There’s no conspiracy,” the South Carolina lawmaker said. “I don’t want to be judgmental, but [Democrats] should look into who is filing.”
Graham backed Wilson’s criticism of the Democrats, noting that his Democratic competitor in the general election two years ago was a libertarian follower of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and sat, at one time, on a county GOP board.
“I think [Democrats] are not doing a very good job filtering people,” Graham said.
“How do you do that? If someone shows up at the polls with a certified check for the filing fee and appears to be a citizen of the state, how do you filter them out? Can you tell me one state that has a background check?” Spratt asked.
Even before the South Carolina primaries, DeMint was expected to cruise to his second term. In a new Rasmussen poll, DeMint leads Greene, 58 to 21 percentage points.
Sean J. Miller and Shane D’Aprile contributed to this article.