S.C. Democratic Party officials rejected a protest filed by its U.S. Senate primary loser during a packed, emotionally charged meeting Thursday night.
The move by the party's executive committee leaves Alvin Greene, an unemployed military veteran who is facing a felony charge, as the party's nominee against U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., this fall.
Greene's vanquished opponent, Charleston County Councilman Vic Rawl, had an attorney, voters, his campaign manager and a pair of math and computer experts tell the five dozen executive committee members that his primary defeat was likely the result of some type of problem with the state's electronic voting system.
Committee members seemed open to the notion that something could be wrong with the voting system, but they were loath to overturn the results of the primary without proof of some specific problem.
"I do believe that what happened last Tuesday was deeply flawed," said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg. "But as Democrats, we do the right thing. We do the right thing even when it hurts us."
Certainly, there is the potential for political pain this fall, as DeMint, perhaps the state's most popular Republican, is an overwhelming favorite to retain his seat. But there is the potential for embarrassment, too, as Greene's behavior — that felony arrest, questions about how he paid the $10,400 campaign filing fee and concerns about his mental capacity — have drawn a swarm of mostly unflattering national attention.
Don Fowler, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the husband of Carol Fowler, the state party chairwoman, said Greene is not the candidate his party would have chosen if left to its own devices.
But despite the fact that Greene raised no campaign money, did no campaigning that anyone can remember and remains a virtual unknown even in the rural county where he lives, he got more than 100,000 votes and smashed Rawl, who had raised $186,000 and had the support of party figures.
Fowler, like 54 other executive committee members, voted against the protest filed by Rawl, who sought a new election by paper ballot. Only 10 committee members voted to uphold the protest.
Because some committee members had half votes while others had full votes, the official vote was 38.5 to 7.5 to reject Rawl's protest.
"This is not about me," Rawl said after the vote was counted and he was swarmed by reporters. "It's not about blacks. It's not about whites. It's about the sanctity of our electoral process."
That Greene, who is black, won because other black voters cast their ballots for him was but one of the theories attacked by Rawl's campaign manager, Walter Ludwig.
Rawl himself said nothing during the proceedings, which had all the elements of a Southern courtroom drama, including a bow-tied lawyer, small-town witnesses and expert testimony.
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