COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Alvin Greene, the most unlikely and perplexing major-party Senate nominee of 2010, sat at his election-night headquarters — a nearly empty ballroom. The unemployed obscenity defendant, aspiring action-figure model and foe of tea party titan Jim DeMint wondered what might have been as workers began carting off food and drinks laid out for a crowd that never came.
“This could have been the biggest political upset,” he said to one supporter, turning his eyes back to results from other races on television. “We’ll just have to see.”
DeMint, the Republican incumbent, easily fended off the Democrat, 62 percent to 28 percent. News outlets called the race before Greene even arrived at the event hall organizers had secured in his hometown of Manning, about 50 miles southeast of Columbia.
Greene, 33, milled around with the handful of journalists who had showed up, showing off a comic book titled “The Ultimate Warrior” that he said was based on his life and amusing himself by leading reporters around the room. An hour later, only a neighbor remained behind with him.
Reporters rushed to Greene in June after he beat former state lawmaker Vic Rawl in the Democratic primary despite having no website, no money and no evidence of a campaign. Political operatives scratched their heads and ultimately chalked it up to the fact that Greene’s name appeared before Rawl’s on the ballot.
The campaign got even stranger as details emerged about Greene, who lives with his ailing father. The Associated Press reported that Greene faced a felony obscenity charge for allegedly showing online pornography to a college student last fall in a University of South Carolina computer lab. He has since been indicted and faces a court hearing later this month. His lawyer has characterized the incident as a misguided attempt at flirtation.
Greene handled questions about the allegation in bizarre fashion, shouting “Nooooooooo!” and “Goooooooo!” at a TV crew who tried to interview him at his home. After a court appearance, he responded to reporters by repeatedly crying his mantra of the campaign: “The opponent started the recession!”
State Democrats rejected Rawl’s challenge of the primary results but asked Greene to withdraw. He soldiered on. A California-based consulting firm took up his cause, putting together a website voicing the campaign’s positions on unemployment, education and criminal justice but only taking in nominal online donations.
Green Party candidate Tom Clements, who ended up with 9 percent of the vote, raised several times more money than Greene, who never even met the $5,000 threshold required for reporting to the Federal Election Commission.
The candidate gave a plethora of often-rambling media interviews, suggesting South Carolina could create jobs by manufacturing an action hero in his likeness. He appeared randomly at local political events and barbecues but was left off candidate lists by state and local Democrats. He was recently seen at a state fair, making bunny ears with his fingers over a TV anchorman’s head.
Still, he received more than 350,000 votes and drew a higher percentage of the vote than six Democratic Senate candidates in other states. Some South Carolina voters said they wanted to show support for Democrats by voting a straight party ticket. Others simply didn’t like DeMint.
Greene said he had no regrets about the campaign, and his brother cryptically suggested this wouldn’t be the last time voter hear from him.
“The Senate was the plan A,” James Greene said. “We’ve still got the plan B.”