Depending on whom you ask, Alvin Greene’s electoral victory in Tuesday’s South Carolina primaries is either evidence that voting machines don’t work, or that the Republican Party is planting phony candidates in Democratic races — or both.
But one thing has become clear: The Democratic Party establishment doesn’t want Alvin Greene anywhere near this fall’s race for a Senate seat from South Carolina.
When asked by NBC’s David Gregory on Sunday if Greene’s election was legitimate, senior White House adviser David Axelrod said, “It doesn’t appear so to me. It was a mysterious deal.”
Axelrod said: “The whole thing is odd. I don’t really know how to explain it and I don’t think anybody else does either. … How [Greene] won the primary is a big mystery, and until you resolve that I don’t think he can claim to be a strong, credible candidate.”
But many political observers are becoming convinced that they do know how Greene won: A combination of faulty voting machines and foul play by political opponents.
Greene handily defeated opponent Vic Rawl in Tuesday’s primary, winning with 59 percent of the vote to Rawl’ 41 percent, despite not having run any sort of visible campaign, not having set up a campaign Web site, and being unemployed. And it quickly emerged that Greene is facing a felony obscenity charge over an incident in which he allegedly showed a college student obscene photos from the Internet.
So how to explain the unlikely election result? One theory, propagated by BradBlog’s Brad Friedman, is that Greene was the beneficiary of phony voting-machine results. In 25 precincts, Greene received more votes than were actually cast; and while Rawl won absentee ballots by a whopping 84-to-16 percentage point margin, the election-day results showed Greene winning by 18 percentage points.
South Carolina uses ES&S’ 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, in this case touch-screen) voting machines at the polling place. The machines, also used in many other states (such as Arkansas, where we recently reported exclusively on the disappearance of thousands of votes on May 18th, which neither state nor local officials are able to explain to this day) are both oft-failed and easily manipulated in such a way that it’s almost impossible to detect the systems have been gamed.
But many observers see something more than malfunctioning voting machines at play in the South Carolina primary. On Sunday, South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn pushed forward with claims he has made in recent days that “someone” — presumably the Republican Party — inserted “plant” candidates into the Democratic primaries, to ruin Democratic chances in the November elections.
“[I]t turned up after the elections, we found out, as I said earlier, something untoward was going on,” Clyburn told CNN’s State of the Union, as quoted at the Huffington Post.
Clyburn said: “Now all of a sudden, we see that Congressman Joe Wilson’s campaign manager was, in fact, managing the campaign of my primary opponent. I saw the patterns in this. I know a Democratic pattern, I know a Republican pattern, and I saw in the Democratic primary, elephant dung all over the place. So I knew something was wrong in that primary. And this result tells us that.”
Clyburn noted that he “never said” Greene was a Republican plant, just that “he was someone’s plant.”
Strengthening the notion that Greene is a “plant” inside the Democratic Party is the fact that the unemployed candidate has not been able to explain, in interviews, where he got the $10,400 to file to run in the primary race.
Writing at FireDogLake, Scott Creighton sides with the argument that Greene may have been a GOP plant. Noting a TV interview in which Greene apparently isn’t familiar with the term “indictment,” Creighton accuses Greene of play-acting.
“Alvin Greene is pretending to be an idiot,” Creighton writes, noting that Greene holds a college degree and worked as an intelligence specialist in the US military. “He is doing it because someone doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want a strong populist democrat like Vic Rawl running against Jim DeMint in South Carolina for his seat in the United States Senate.”
But, at least for the time being, Greene is the Democrats’ choice to run for the Senate in South Carolina this November. “Unless something changes between now and November,” writes Brad Friedman, “Greene’s inexplicable victory will pit him against the state’s often-controversial, and far-Rightwing Republican incumbent, Sen. Jim DeMint.”
This video is from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast June 13, 2010.