South Carolina Democratic Party officials on Thursday upheld a surprising U.S. Senate primary win by an unemployed military veteran, rejecting a protest lodged by their favored candidate that could have required a new vote.
The party's executive committee decided there was not enough evidence of impropriety to nullify the June 8 election victory by Alvin Greene, a 32-year-old who lives with his father and waged no visible campaign against a former lawmaker.
Greene did not attend the meeting and nobody spoke on his behalf. Reached afterward by phone, he reiterated one of his few, common public statements about his candidacy.
"I am the best candidate in the U.S. Senate race in South Carolina. Let's stop my opponent from reversing forward progress in the United States and South Carolina," he said.
The move upholds the improbable win by Greene, who raised no money and didn't even have a campaign website. Democratic Party leaders had intensified their scrutiny after The Associated Press reported Greene faces a felony obscenity charge and the candidate stammered through a series of awkward, terse news interviews. Some accused Republicans of having a hand in the election.
Greene will face Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who is considered a heavy favorite.
The party's 92-member executive committee made its decision after experts and voters testified for election loser Vic Rawl that questionable balloting statistics and problems with touch-screen voting machines indicated a corrupted final tally.
However, members of the committee said they hadn't been presented with enough concrete evidence and could not overturn an election, no matter how much they wanted Rawl, a former lawmaker and judge, to win.
"We do the right thing even when it hurts us," state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter said before the vote that overwhelmingly went in Greene's favor. "We do the right thing even when by doing the right thing it conflicts with everything that we feel in our hearts."
Rawl said he would not appeal the decision but did not answer other questions.
Among the questions that have raised suspicions about Greene is that he has failed to fully answer is how he paid the $10,440 filing fee to run for office in March. He has said he saved up his military pay for two years but has refused to show party officials or news outlets bank statements to substantiate that.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.