An unemployed 32-year-old black Army veteran with no campaign funds, no signs, and no website shocked South Carolina on Tuesday night by winning the Democratic Senate primary to oppose Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Alvin Greene, who currently lives in his family's home, defeated Vic Rawl, a former judge and state legislator who had a $186,000 campaign warchest and had already planned his next fundraising event. Despite the odds, Greene, who has been unemployed for the past nine months, said that he wasn't surprised by his victory. "I wasn’t surprised, but not really. I mean, just a little, but not much. I knew I was on top of my campaign, and just stayed on top of everything, I just—I wasn't surprised that much, just a little. I knew that I worked hard and did," Greene said in an interview.
Greene insists that he paid the $10,400 filing fee and all other campaign expenses from his own personal funds. "It was 100 percent out of my pocket. I’m self-managed. It’s hard work, and just getting my message to supporters. I funded my campaign 100 percent out of my pocket and self-managed," said Greene, who sounded anxious and unprepared to speak to the public. But despite his lack of election funds, Greene claims to have criss-crossed the state during his campaign—though he declined to specify any of the towns or places he visited or say how much money he spent while on the road.
"It wasn’t much, I mean, just, it was—it wasn’t much. Not much, I mean, it wasn’t much," he said, when asked how much of his own money he spent in the primary. Greene frequently spoke in rapid-fire, fragmentary sentences, repeating certain phrases or interrupting himself multiple times during the same sentence while he searched for the right words. But he was emphatic about certain aspects of his candidacy, insisting that details about his campaign organization, for instance, weren't relevant. "I'm not concentrating on how I was elected—it's history. I’m the Democratic nominee—we need to get talking about America back to work, what's going on, in America."
The oddity of Greene’s candidacy has already prompted speculation from local media about whether he might be a Republican plant. But Greene denies that Republicans or anyone else had approached him about running. "No, no—no one approached me. This is my decision," he said. A 13-year military veteran, he says he had originally gotten the idea in 2008 when he was serving in Korea. "I just saw the country was in bad shape two years ago…the country was declining," he says. "I wanted to make sure we continue to go up on the right track." But when asked whether there was a specific person or circumstance that precipitated his decision to jump into politics, Greene simply replied: "nothing in particular...it's just, uh, nothing in particular." South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler speculated that Greene won because his name appeared first on the ballot, and voters unfamiliar with both candidates chose alphabetically.