COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The state Democratic Party has asked South Carolina's surprise Democratic Senate nominee facing a pending felony charge to withdraw from the race.
Alvin Greene won the Democratic primary Tuesday night and is set to challenge US Sen. Jim DeMint in the fall, however, state Democrats don't want Greene to continue his candidacy.
Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler asked Greene to withdraw from the race after learning that Greene was recently charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity after police say he showed obscene photos to a University of South Carolina student.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Fowler wrote, "Today I spoke with Alvin Greene, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the US Senate, and asked him to withdraw from the race. I did not do this lightly, as I believe strongly that the Democratic voters of this state have the right to select our nominee. But this new information about Mr. Greene has would certainly have affected the decisions of many of those voters."
"We are proud to have nominated a Democratic ticket this year that, with the apparent exception of Mr. Greene, reflects South Carolina's values. Our candidates want to give this state a new beginning without the drama and irresponsibility of the past 8 years, and the charges against Mr. Greene indicate that he cannot contribute to that new beginning. I hope he will see the wisdom of leaving the race."
32-year-old Greene was arrested by the Clarendon County Sheriff's Department in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student. The felony charge carries up to five years in prison.
Greene told the Associated Press he will not step aside in the race because he is the "people's choice."
"The Democratic Party has chosen their nominee, and we have to stand behind their choice," Greene told the AP at his home in Manning. "The people have spoken. We need to be pro-South Carolina, not anti-Greene."
The unemployed veteran posted bond after his arrest. He has yet to enter a plea or be indicted.
Records indicate Greene showed photos to a woman and talked about going to her room at a university dorm.
On Tuesday, Greene stunned state Democratic Party leaders by winning the nomination. He raised no money and put up no campaign website. He beat former four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl, 64, who had raised about $186,000 and had to abruptly scrap a late-week fundraiser for the fall.
Rawl said he didn't know about Greene's arrest until reading media reports about it.
"It's an absolute surprise," said Rawl. "I can't really make any comments, because I don't know what's going on."
Greene said he spent a total of 13 years in the Air Force and Army before leaving the Army in August.
DeMint, a conservative Republican and tea party darling pursuing a second term, has marshaled a $3.5 million war chest already to face the bare-pockets Democratic underdog.
Rawl's lengthy resume lists four past state House terms and former posts as prosecutor, circuit court judge and more.
Greene's win may come down the simple fact that his name was listed before Rawl's on the alphabetized ballot, a possibility Fowler said she pondered Tuesday night. Now, Fowler is trying to rework general election schematics that had assumed Rawl would ultimately face off with DeMint.
Even if Rawl had been successful, one analyst expressed skepticism it would have made a difference against the juggernaut of DeMint, a tea party darling who has marshaled a $3.5 million war chest already in the pursuit of his second term.
"A lot of it speaks to the lack of depth of the bench for the Democratic Party in South Carolina right now," said Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University. "Their best shot in November, really, is the Governor's Mansion."
DeMint trounced a Charleston lawyer, Susan Gaddy, in the GOP contest to advance.