Free Times story on Greene BEFORE the vote

Corey Hutchins over at the Free Times brings my attention to his story about Alvin Greene, posted this afternoon:

…State party executive director Jay Parmley looked like he’d bitten down on a joy buzzer as he sat in the chair of his office, scrolling up and down the precinct reports on his computer monitor shaking his head, cursing under his breath, wondering why, why, why; how, how, how?
In the race for United States Senate, political unknown Alvin M. Greene had walloped challenger Vic Rawl.
Around the state, Democratic activists were facing the smacking electoral truth that a non-campaigning, unemployed, black, country-living, coo-coo-for-Cocoa-Puffs nobody who’d been kicked out of the Army and was currently facing federal sex charges had just beaten — in the Democratic primary, and by 17 percentage points — a well-known former legislator, judge and current Charleston County councilman who’d raised a quarter of a million bucks for the race and for months been campaigning his ass off.
The news wasn’t sinking in as much as it was settling like a depth charge….

But I wasn’t nearly as impressed by that as I was by the fact that Corey had done a reasonably complete story on Greene well before Tuesday’s vote. An excerpt from that May 19 piece:

At the end of a dirt driveway off a dusty highway in rural Clarendon County, just outside the town of Manning, a lawn overgrown with weeds sports no campaign sign for the man living in a house there who has filed to run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate.

The candidate, a 32-year-old unemployed black Army veteran named Alvin Greene, walked into the state Democratic Party headquarters in March with a personal check for $10,400. He said he wanted to become South Carolina’s U.S. senator.

Needless to say, Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler was a bit surprised.

Fowler had never met Greene before, she says, and the party isn’t in the habit of taking personal checks from candidates filing for office. She told Greene that he’d have to start a campaign account if he wanted to run. She asked him if he thought it was the best way to invest more than $10,000 if he was unemployed.

Several hours later, Greene came back with a campaign check. The party accepted it, and Greene became an official candidate for the U.S. Senate. He was eager to have his picture put on the party’s website to show he had filed, says state Democratic Party executive director Jay Parmley.

And Corey was asking Greene himself some of the questions that should have been asked:

Reached by phone May 12, and asked how he thought his campaign was going, Greene said, “So far, so good.”

Asked when he planned to file with the FEC, he replied, “OK, yeah, so what do you need? What are you trying to get from me, now? I’m in a hurry.”

Greene says he decided to run for the United States Senate two years ago when he was serving in Korea.

As for the $10,400 he used to get on the ballot, Greene says it was money he’d made from being a soldier.

“That was my personal pay,” he says. “Money out of my pocket.”

Parmley says he finds the whole thing odd.

He says running for any other office in the state would cost much less money. “If you’re going to file for something and not do anything, why waste $10,000?”

Even then, ahead of time, Corey was raising the Republican conspiracy theory, rightly or wrongly:

Greene’s curious candidacy raises the question that something else might be going on.

Republican place markers in Palmetto State Democratic primaries are campaign legend.

In the early ‘90s, a Republican strategist was prosecuted and forced to pay a fine when he was found to have coaxed an unemployed black fisherman into running in a primary race to increase white turnout at the polls in a Lowcountry congressional race. The political operative paid the man’s filing fee.

Greene says he’s never heard of such a thing. He says he just really wanted to run.

Regardless of how or why he got into the race, his candidacy has certainly created some political intrigue.

Good enterprise, young man. Too bad more of us didn’t read it at the time.

16 thoughts on “Free Times story on Greene BEFORE the vote

  1. kc

    Good enterprise, young man. Too bad more of us didn’t read it at the time.

    I second that. The major papers were really out to lunch on this. Still are.

  2. Brad

    A reader brings to my attention via e-mail the story that the Greenville News did on Greene and Rawl before the primary.

    Good for them, but it’s not what I would call real COVERAGE, actually raising the right questions (or some of them), the way Corey did.

    The Greenville story is more the kind of story you get from mailing questionnaires to the candidates. The State did that this year on a number of races as a substitute for actual coverage. Not to complain, though — in some cases that’s all the information I got from anywhere on those campaigns. So I appreciated it.

  3. bud

    Brad, you’ve been very dismissive of the Free Times in the past. Seems like they were way ahead of the all mighty State in the Greene story. I’m more impressed with the Free Times the more I read it and hear about it. They have some really good stories about Columbia politics, restaraunts and cultural events. Pretty good for something that’s absolutely free!

  4. Brad

    I care, Michael, in that I really enjoy his Tweets. Especially his reTweets, because he spends a lot more time surfing the Web for really interesting stuff, and passes it on.

    Now, to agree with your point, Ebert does wear a bit thin when he ventures into politics. Although I think he’s a brilliant man, like a lot of people who come from cultural beats and venture into political commentary (Frank Rich and Leonard Pitts come to mind), he tends to be reflexively and superficially liberal to the extent that he doesn’t bother to think, “Maybe this conservative has a point.” And that bugs me. I suspect that it comes from the fact that people who write about movies or theater or pop music in their early career and go straight from that to political commentary never get to know politicians of all stripes. They never come to know and respect people who represent political philosophies that they disagree with. And it makes their views, to my ear, offensively facile.

    But hey, everybody has their faults. And I really, really enjoy following Roger Ebert, his politics aside.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Has it occurred to you, Brad, that perhaps the arts critics turned politicos are not “superficially liberal” but liberal through and through, in no small part because conservatives have been on the forefront of arts funding cuts and gay-bashing, issues that are probably near and dear to their hearts. It’s hard to see the good in someone, for example, who thinks you will be damned to hell or who works as hard as s/he can to prevent you from equal civil rights with your partner simply because your partner is the same sex as you.

  6. Brad

    Precisely. They are emotional, rather than analytical. And they are COMPLETELY lacking in understanding of the other side.

    Think about what I’m saying here — they are exactly as extreme and as one-sided as those who say those with whom they disagree are headed for hell. They utterly dismiss those with whom they disagree, as though they were not human beings.

    And I can’t abide that.

  7. Kathryn Fenner

    Written like a “T”–Malcolm Gladwell made a convincing case in Blink that making “analytical” decisions instead of emotional ones is not always better by a long shot.

    –and I am disappointed by how unsympathetic you are — you have rarely, if ever, experienced the sort of hatred based on congenital circumstances like race, sex, and sexual orientation–you chose to be a Catholic as an adult, knowing some few people would be prejudiced against you for that sole reason.

    It is valid to judge the quality of someone’s reasoning when that person resorts to prejudice.

  8. Phillip

    Kathryn, and Brad, I think the reason the percentage of liberals among people in the arts and associated creative fields is higher than the general public is the same reason as with university professors: families with conservative parents tend to steer their children towards professions with a greater or more reliably steady income source (some might say “real work”!) whereas parents in liberal households tend to be more understanding of the idea of their children pursuing less secure careers or ones where success is measured by criteria other than the material. It’s definitely cultural. Of course there are plenty of exceptions.

    On another note–Brad, Frank Rich is of course a liberal, but he is certainly no partisan cheerleader or mindless defender of Obama, as a reading of his recent columns will reveal. Moreover, he’s a brilliant writer and I enjoy reading him for the same reason I enjoy reading George Will.

  9. Brad

    Phillip, I’m just going to hazard a guess here — because I decided some time back that life was too short and I found reading Frank Rich too damaging to my blood pressure — but tell me whether my guess is on the money…

    He lambastes Obama for not being liberal enough, right? For the very stuff that I praise the president for, his nonideological pragmatism.

    Is my guess wrong?

  10. Brad

    Also, y’all might enjoy this…

    Last night Corey Hutchins called me to say that he read this post, and he wanted to ask me to take it down, because he didn’t think the issue should be about him…

    And I said, “I … well… uh…” at which point he laughed and said he was just kidding; he wanted to thank me.

    I muttered something about how over the years I had learned that people reacted to having their names in print (or on blog) in very unpredictable ways, which was why I wasn’t sure that he was kidding… That’s why he “got” me. It’s not that I’m a sap or anything…

    What I didn’t tell him, but will share now, is that Corey is the guy who called me last year and asked me, in all seriousness, whether I was running for governor. So I sort of had history with him calling me and saying unlikely things…

    So THERE, smart guy.

    And you’re welcome.

  11. Phillip

    Brad, you’re wrong about Frank. There has been some of what you say, but recently (especially as regards BP, but also the economy) it’s been more on issues of leadership. This column in particular:

    Rich: “[Obama’s] most conspicuous flaw is his unshakeable confidence in the collective management brilliance of the best and the brightest he selected for his White House team…Obama has yet to find a sensible middle course between blind faith in his own Ivy League kind and his predecessor’s go-with-the-gut bravado.”

    In other words, we were right to castigate Bush’s intellectual incuriosity, but maybe Obama takes it to the other extreme? Overthinking and underdoing?


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