South Carolina politics has long been populated by its fair share of characters, from morbidly obese neoconfederates with a penchant for dropping racial slurs to orange-haired old men who get handsy with the ladies to slimy, black-op political operatives who will launch a smear campaign against their allies if the price is right and their hearts are broken. And then there is the mystery man of Manning, S.C., Alvin Greene. Once he arrived on the political scene in 2010, politics in the Palmetto State would never be the same.
In The Accidental Candidate, Free Times reporter and City Paper contributor Corey Hutchins, freelance reporter David Axe, and illustrator Blue Delliquanti tell of Greene’s unlikely rise from the primordial ooze of small-town Southern life to the heights of cable-news celebrity. The bullet-point-breezy graphic novel is a good primer for newbies to the silly and sad story of Greene, a political unknown who defeated a well-connected candidate to win the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tea Party darling — and theocrat — Jim DeMint. However, those who are already familiar with Greene’s tale may be left wanting more, although that lack of substantial insight doesn’t take away from the graphic novel’s charms. Delliquanti’s crisp black-and-white drawings add humor and a sense of immediacy to Hutchins and Axe’s story. Hopefully Hutchins, the S.C. Press Association’s 2012 journalist of the year, will one day return to the tale of Alvin Greene and present a fuller account of his 15 minutes of fame. At the very least, Hutchins should get cracking on a screenplay.
In the end, The Accidental Candidate is not only a cautionary tale about voter apathy and the sad-sack incompetence of the S.C. Democratic Party. It’s the tragic story of a not-so-regular Joe who believed that he could become a political star by doing absolutely nothing — and then discovered that he was right, much to his own horror.