S.C. Democratic Senate Nominee Refuses to Withdraw Despite Felony Charge

Alvin Greene refuses to budge in race against Sen. Jim DeMint.

June 9, 2010, 12:31 PM

June 10, 2010— -- Alvin Greene, the surprise South Carolina Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, is refusing to withdraw from the race despite a pending felony charge and pleas from state party leaders that he step aside.

Greene was kicked out of the Army last year and later arrested and charged with "disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity" in Richland County, S.C., according to court records obtained by ABC News. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

The U.S. Senate candidate was captured on video surveillance Nov. 4 trying to show "obscene photographs from a website" to a female victim on the University of South Carolina campus and go to her room without her consent, according to the affidavit.

"Our candidates want to give this state a new beginning without the drama and irresponsibility of the past eight years," said state Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler in a statement. "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."

So far, Greene has refused, and there is little recourse officials may have since he was legitimately nominated. Federal law does not prohibit charged or convicted felons from serving in Congress -- though the House or Senate could vote to expel a member it deemed unfit for office.

The 32-year-old military veteran, who lives with his parents, declined to discuss the pending felony with ABC News during an interview at his home in Manning, S.C., Wednesday.

"I have no comment about that, I have no comment," he said.

Greene has been unemployed and living in his rural hometown 60 miles south of Columbia. He doesn't own a cell phone and there is no computer in his house.

He returned home last August when he was involuntarily forced out of the Army after a 13-year career. "Things just weren't working ... it was hard to say." Greene said. He had served as an intelligence specialist in the Air Force and later as a unit supply specialist in the Army.

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Greene shocked South Carolina Democrats Tuesday when he won a commanding victory over four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl in the primary without the help of a war chest of campaign cash or an orchestrated effort to win voters across the state. In fact, there is little evidence that he campaigned at all.

Greene: State Democrats Chose Me

"I didn't spend much. ... I kept it simple, nothing fancy," he said in a sometimes rambling and incoherent interview with ABC News. "It was 100 percent out of my own pocket."

Greene's campaign slogan is "Let's get South Carolina back to work," and he stayed on message today, telling ABC News, "My campaign is about the unemployed. We spend more money on locking people up than we do on getting people jobs."

He admitted he was "a little surprised" by his victory but said he believed he had earned it.

"It's not luck -- I got 60 percent of the vote," said Greene. "If it was 51 percent maybe it was luck, but 60 percent of the vote is not luck." He did not provide details of how or where he campaigned.

Meanwhile, state Democratic Party leaders and Rawl, who raised close to $200,000 crisscrossing the state during the campaign, remain stunned that Greene captured 59 percent of the vote.

"Conventional wisdom was that Vic would win easily," said Fowler. "It is quite an upset. ... There really is no explanation for why he won."

Fowler said Greene's victory was a setback for Democrats' attempts to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint. "Now that becomes harder with a candidate with no political experience," she said.

As Greene continues in the national spotlight in his bid to unseat a popular senator in a conservative state, he faces tough questions about his personal and professional record and pressure to provide clear answers.

"I'm looking forward to a September debate" with DeMint, Greene said. "I would like an hour debate live on one of the networks."

"I will also need the party's backing with funding on the state level and national level," he said.

Analyst: Greene an 'Easy' Challenger for DeMint

It's unclear how much money, if any, the party will give to Greene, whom many political analysts don't give a chance against DeMint.

"You had an absolute unknown [Greene] running against a virtual unknown [Rawl]," said Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon. Greene's victory "says something about the depth of the Democratic bench in South Carolina, but not much more than that."

Huffmon says DeMint and Republicans have never been concerned with either potential challenger ahead of the general election and said conspiracy theories that Republicans may have facilitated Greene's victory to give DeMint a weaker challenger are misguided.

Greene's victory could have negative implications for the Democratic Party, however, since Greene could appear to be a "sacrificial lamb," Huffmon said. "If the party doesn't put time and energy into helping someone unknown get respectable turn out, then it could look very bad for the party."

ABC News' Luis Martinez, Michael Murray and Gregory Simmons contributed to this report.

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