I spent the day after last week’s state Republican and Democratic primaries trying to figure out what went wrong. The GOPers performed pretty much as expected, but the Democrats went into some kind of frenzied, unforeseen death spiral, assuring all that they would make a minimal impact on Election Day.
In case you slept through it, 99,276 Democrats cast their votes for a U.S. Senate candidate that no one had ever heard of. State Democrats nominated an unemployed 32-year-old Army veteran from Manning named Alvin Greene.
Mr. Greene did not raise or spend any money, did not buy a single yard sign or radio spot that anybody is aware of, did not put up a website or open a campaign office. But he was able to carry 59 percent of the vote against Vic Rawl, a party regular, seasoned campaigner, former state legislator, and former state judge. And there was one more thing he managed to do — he paid the $10,400 filing fee to run for U.S. Senate, a pretty big order for a guy without a job.
But things got stranger. The day after the primary, media around the state reported that Greene faces a felony obscenity charge, stemming from an encounter with a woman last November. How did this little fact get overlooked by the media and the Democratic Party?
Ah, but there’s more. In U.S. House District 1, Ben Frasier finally won the Democratic nomination after 10 previous tries. That’s right. I said 10 previous tries. Apparently, the 11th time was the charm.
Through 10 election cycles, Frasier has paid the filing fee for the House race and basically disappeared. Like Greene in last week’s election, Frasier has never run a campaign and never created a headquarters or a website, but he has forced the Democratic Party to hold 11 primaries before a legitimate candidate could receive the nomination.
Why was Ben Frasier never considered a legitimate candidate? Lots of reasons. Forget the fact that he defended the Confederate flag atop the Statehouse, challenged a woman’s right to abortion, and said gays should be kept out of the military and prayer should be kept in public schools.
No, the real reason local Democrats find it impossible to take Frasier seriously is that while he claims Wadmalaw Island as his home on his filing papers, he also has a home and a homestead tax credit in Maryland. At the time of his filing two years ago, he had four businesses in Maryland and claimed himself as the resident agent for each of those in his filing with the Maryland attorney general’s office. At least 12 times in recent years, Frasier has gone to court in various matters and on each of those occasions stated — presumably under oath — that he is a Maryland resident.
Faced with these facts in a residency hearing in 2008, the Charleston County Board of Elections took a deep breath and told Frasier that he was a legal resident of Charleston County and legitimate candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. That year, he was only a nuisance, losing the primary to Linda Ketner, as he had lost nine times before.
But this year was different. This year Frasier actually won his first primary, defeating a smart and serious candidate named Robert Burton, a retired Air Force colonel and active Democrat. The unqualified and underfunded Frasier hasn’t a snowball’s chance of winning the District 1 seat against the well-oiled Republican machine.
On the surface, Frasier’s and Greene’s elections look like democracy in action. But many in the Democratic Party say they look like shams. And they have reason to be suspicious. Both candidates are black, and in the shameful politics of South Carolina, race can be used in many twisted ways. In 1990, political operative Rod Shealy paid a black man to run in a Republican primary in Charleston County. The tactic worked, bringing a record number of white voters to the polls in a racial backlash that won the primary for his sister. But it earned Shealy a conviction and fine for violating state election laws. Quite frankly, these primaries look like another Republican fix.
But this time we may get some answers. This time we have a Democratic U.S. attorney in South Carolina and one of his duties is to insure the fairness and legitimacy of the electoral process. I am calling on U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles to investigate the Democratic Senate and House District 1 primaries to determine if there was fraud used to eliminate worthy and electable Democratic candidates. This is necessary to preserve the democratic process in South Carolina. Let’s pull back the cover and take a look.
See Will Moredock’s blog at charlestoncitypaper.com/blogs/thegoodfight.