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Did Alvin Greene win because his name begins with A?

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Watching Alvin Greene try to answer the most basic questions about his campaign was painful, and it brought up the obvious mystery of the South Carolina Democratic primary: How did this guy get any votes?

John Sides offers one possible answer: His name came first on the ballot. If you assume an election in which no one knew anything about either candidate, then it's not hard to imagine that 8 percent or 9 percent of Democratic primary voters just checked the box for the first Democrat on the list. That doesn't answer the question of where this guy got the money to run, or why he decided to run, but it's at least plausible in an abstract sense. Which is more, I think, than you can say for Alvin Greene.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Comments

You know, I'm generally pretty skeptical of conspiracy theories, to the point of annoyance usually, but I heard that in November this guy was involved in a court proceeding of some kind and got a public defender. That means he filled out a form listing his assets and income and it was deemed that he could not afford any attorney to represent him. Then a few months later he has the $10,000 filing fee to run for office. Now, since he had no other funding and ran almost no campaign, it seems like an awfully strange way to throw the election if you're some scheming Republican organization. Still, there's something fishy here, and I'm glad someone is looking into it.

Posted by: MosBen | June 11, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The obvious explanation is that he was elected by Republicans crossing over to vote for the weakest Democrat. The Republican primary was essentially no contest, so there would be no reason not to stray and make some mischief.

Posted by: dk10024 | June 11, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't ballots have randomized order for exactly that reason?

Posted by: akusu | June 11, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

You might want to spell his name right in the heading (it's Greene not Green) since apparently that's one of the theories -- that SC Democratic voters would know that a Greene with an e was almost certainly African American, much as a Nguyen is pretty much guaranteed to be a Vietnamese American, and supposedly that could explain the vote.

After reading about some of the expert analysis of the pattern of "votes," though, I agree with MosBen. This just looks like a dirty trick that ultimately won't be able to stand the light of day.

To make an analogy to another recent SC story, we are still at the stage when all we know is that the governor is said to be hiking the Appalachian Trail and many people think it's great he's communing with nature and should be left alone. That story didn't stop at that point. This one won't either.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | June 11, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, I think John Sides may be right in thinking that people voted for him just because his name was first.

I live in SC. There was virtually NO media coverage of the Democratic primary for US Senate. I knew Vic Rawl was running against DeMint, but didn't even know that Rawl had an opponent until I got to the polls (and I voted for Rawl).

It doesn't say much for our state's media. Doesn't say much for the state Dem Party or voters, either, that this could have happened.

I still have the same question as MosBen: Where did this guy get the money?

Posted by: RoguePlanet | June 11, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone actually checking exit polling or has anyone found anyone in South Carolina who claims they voted for Mr. Greene? Somehow he got 59% of the vote in a statewide primary for a Federal Office in the Democratic Party yet cannot find anything on a Progressive, liberal, Democrat, whatever blog showing that anyone has actually cast a vote for this guy or knows someone who cast a vote for this guy. Or even heard of him before the election. I have read they use Diebold voting machines, are their paper ballots somebody could check.

I assume their are actual local newspapers in SOuth Carolina? I know one of them found Governor Sanford when he came back from Argentina. Can they find anyone who voted for Mr. Greene?

Posted by: zattarra | June 11, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

In SC, Occam's Razor points toward GOP dirty tricks.

Posted by: allanbrauer | June 11, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Why are you all dancing around the obvious, afraid of being called racist if you say it? A black man won a Democratic primary in a state where the vast majority of Democratic voters are black. The other candidate was white. Who is surprised by this? It’s the reason Jesse Jackson won SC.

Newspapers and local stations provide voter guides a day or two before every election. People knew who was black and who was white?

Posted by: rickroberts | June 11, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen these voter guides? All I've seen of this story is that this guy was on the ballot, had no funding, no advertising and no campaigning. I have seen no indication that their were voter guides or newspaper columns or local news reports sayng who was who. I have no problem believing that African American voters would vote for an African American candidate, what's racist there, what I have not seen is any indication that anyone knew Mr. Greene was black or white.

To whomever posted that Greene was an african american surname and Green was not - is this a well known thing? First I had ever heard of it. Is this a Southern thing (I'm from the North)? I'm trying to figure out how people would know to vote for Mr. Greene and wouldn't object to seeing actual proof that people did.

If it is an Afrcian American thing does that also explain how he won in the mostly white counties too?

There doesn't seem to be an easy explanation for this election. It's just strange.

Posted by: zattarra | June 11, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

rickroberts, I live here. I am telling you, none of the local newspapers covered this race. There were no "voter guides" for this race. One alternative weekly, "The Free Times," actually did run a pretty decent piece on Greene in May, asking "Who is this guy?" I think the Greenville News also had a paragraph about him.

But other than that, nada in the local media.

Posted by: RoguePlanet | June 11, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Are Diebold touchscreen voting machines used in SC?

Posted by: AuthorEditor | June 11, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Republicans had an extremely competitive gubernatorial primary so it's unlikely there was any coordinated effort to vote for the "weakest Democrat".

Sheheen, who is white, got 59% in the gubernatorial primary so race wasn't a big factor.

Posted by: lol-lol | June 11, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen the voting stats by precinct for this race, so.... this is just gut feel. But analysis of those stats should indicate if there is some evidence of Repubs crossing over to select a week Dem. candidate. I strongly suspect that this is the case.

As for funding, a subpeona for bank records should clear up where the filing fee and other expense money came from. Who will do the legal investigation though? Voting fraud probably doesn't get any prosecutorial attention in SC - the permanent home of sleazy campaign tactics.

However, Greene didn't file Fed. Election Commission reports when required, so there should be a federal case that can be investigated. Will Obama allow that to happen? I doubt it. He's afraid that the GOP might not like him even more, so he'll say don't look back (even two weeks).

Open primaries are an invitation to hanky panky. CA will rue the day that they allowed it. It makes big money (or small, in this case) have an even bigger mouth than they already do.

Cue: Love for Sale reworked with electoral lyrics.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | June 11, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

South Carolina just surpassed Florida in stupidity voting.

Who knows why the man ran for Senate?Florida has a felon who goes from county to county filing to run for lowly positions except for when he ran for Tax Collector in Palm Beach county not to long ago. He was sent to prison before the election.

Now he is out of prison after an 18 month incarceration and CURRENTLY on the Brevard County (FL) candidate list. He is G.J. for the Soil and Water Conservation Board, Group 2.

Alvin Green's campaign should be hit with some hefty election fines for failing to file reports.

Posted by: truthbetold8 | June 11, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Wassamatter, Klein? You don't think Greene will be a reliable team player? Isn't he exactly the kind of moron you need filling up Congress in order to jam your corrupt leftist agenda down the country's throat?

Posted by: msoja | June 12, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

http://www.facebook.com/search/?post_form_id=792695dd8e11248585d7f09f27df1674&q=alvin%20greene&init=quick&ref=search_preload#!/group.php?gid=130073940349784&ref=search

We are aiming to be the largest serious group of people showing our support for Mr. Greene. Whether you are a hardcore supporter, or somebody who just feels that the media has been all over this poor guys' back - join our group and express your support for (future senator) Greene.

Posted by: Muellerl | June 12, 2010 2:37 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats simply got caught in their own ignorance, stupidity, and hate-filled, race-based voting.

You Dems have to be slightly more intelligent than just being able to vote for someone based purely on what you can identify their skin color as. Racists.

This is truly hysterical. The DUMBO-Crats caught with their pants down, do what the Democrats ALWAYS do - seek to blame others for things that they are either involved in or purely their own fault.

All Americans with a sense of humor should call, email and send a few bucks to Greene just to let him know he's appreciated.

Posted by: C0rrupt_0_Crats | June 12, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats simply got caught in their own ignorance, stupidity, and hate-filled, race-based voting.

You Dems have to be slightly more intelligent than just being able to vote for someone based purely on what you can identify their skin color as. Racists.

This is truly hysterical. The DUMBO-Crats caught with their pants down, do what the Democrats ALWAYS do - seek to blame others for things that they are either involved in or purely their own fault.

All Americans with a sense of humor should call, email and send a few bucks to Greene just to let him know he's appreciated.

Posted by: C0rrupt_0_Crats | June 12, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

The best option for voters in South Carolina is to go with the Green Party candidate, Tom Clements. He is definitely on the ball and would shake up Washington with a message we need. If you're angry at Republicans and Democrats and tired of the 2-party system and the situation in Washington, it's time to break things open with more parties. There are only 3 candidates on the ballot - Clements, DeMinted & Greene & Clements will be at the top.

Check out Clements' facebook page & I see his website is under construction: clementsforsenate.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Clements-for-US-Senate/128952760459672?v=app_2373072738#!/pages/Tom-Clements-for-US-Senate/128952760459672

Posted by: Frogamander | June 12, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

The problem with trying to explain the machine results as being a function of the fact that Greene's name always appeared above his opponents on the machines is that he got killed in the absentee results, although his name appeared above his opponent's there as well.

This was clearly a case of the ES&S paperless voting machines having been undetectably hacked--something that's much more difficult to do when voters vote on paper ballots that are both recountable and auditable.

Maryland candidates better hope that the guy who hacked the SC machines doesn't get a contract to do the same in MD. Not that we'll ever know if he/she did.

Posted by: mikeberla1 | June 12, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

A repulican plant. I'm telling you guys, these people do the same thing they accuse "third world" countries of do. This is one reason why we've lost our "moral" influence.

Posted by: Bajiquan | June 12, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

A republican plant. I'm telling you guys, these people do the same thing they accuse "third world" countries of do. This is one reason why we've lost our "moral" influence.

Posted by: Bajiquan | June 12, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Ah so only SC voters are stupid and SC republicans are tricky?? LOL anyone paying attention to the trial going on in Chicago over that Demorat trying to sell the Senate seat that Barry held? I think Chicago is a big city with alot of smart sophisticated people isnt it not a southern bumpkin state right? The utter blindness in USA politics, if not so sad of watching a great system abused, would be funny. Viva la media lol

Posted by: dukeameye3 | June 13, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the SC Republicans are up to their old tricks. Read this story from Harper's Magazine, October 2007:

Rod Shealy is less well known but many South Carolina insiders deem him to be the smartest and shrewdest of all... “Shealy is diabolically clever and a master of dirty tricks, but very effective,” Will Folks, a political consultant and blogger who has worked with and against Shealy, told me.

Shealy gained a bit of national notoriety in 1990, when he was running the campaign of his sister, Sherry Martschink, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Shealy was looking to increase the turnout of racially conservative low-country voters, a group largely sympathetic to Martschink, in the overall Republican primary. To do so, he recruited Benjamin Hunt, Jr., an unemployed black fisherman, to run for congress in the Republican primary against incumbent Arthur Ravenel, Jr., even paying Hunt’s filing fee. When the ploy was revealed, Shealy was convicted and fined for violating campaign laws.

http://harpers.org/archive/2007/10/hbc-90001427

Posted by: michele3d | June 13, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

On the one hand, whoever the Democrats chose to run for that seat--unless it was Dirty Harry or Superman--is likely to lose. So, if there was any chicanery on the part of the Republicans, it was entirely pointless.

And I find such accusations from liberals and Democrats usually motivated out of partisan emotion, rather than an objective assessment of the facts.

However, I followed the Nikki Haley story, where two extremely questionably accusations came from two different people claiming to have slept with Nikki (when Nikki was clearly out of their league), plus one Republican referring to Nikki (who is a Christian of Indian descent) as a rag-head and suggesting that "we're over there fighting those people" (Indian Sikhs? Really?) and suggesting that Nikki was part of a vast Sikh conspiracy to takeover the country . . . after watching all that, I'm convinced that the Republican machine in South Carolina is capable of anything.

So it would not surprise me at this point to find that some Republican in SC helped Greene get the nomination, although the Democrats had almost no hope of unseating DeMint.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 14, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

So, Greene and Klein each have a wondrously wonderful Bachelors in Political Science, which makes Klein's mew about Greene being "plausible" delightfully ironic.

I wonder if Greene is as dimly sanctimonious as dear Klein.

Posted by: msoja | June 14, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Why would the Republicans try to replace Vic Rawl on the ballot? According to at least one poll, as of May 27, Rawl trailed DeMint by 19 points. Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that the Republicans, worried about a terrifyingly slim 19-point lead, planted a guy in the Democratic primary but then ran no ads for him, held no rallies, sent out no mailings, emails or campaign literature of any kind nor made any attempts of any kind to get support for their plant? Please. Democrats have only themselves to blame here. Look on the bright side Dems, at least your voters didn't vote for Buchanan this time around.

Posted by: MDixon23 | June 15, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

There is a solid, quality candidate in the race named Tom Clements. He's on the November ballot as the Green Party nominee. Check out his website at http://www.ClementsForSenate.com

Posted by: greggjocoy | June 17, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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