Is Alvin Greene the Real Joe the Plumber?

An exclusive interview with the surprise winner of South Carolina's Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate.


While everyone else was paying attention to Nikki Haley and Meg Whitman in Tuesday’s primaries, an African American named Alvin Greene ran over former four-term state lawmaker Vic Rawl to win South Carolina’s Democratic Senate primary. An unemployed 32-year-old veteran who paid $10,400 to register as a candidate and then bought not even a single campaign sign, Greene stunned the pundits with his victory, and in last 20 hours, he’s become a media research project. On Wednesday, the South Carolina Democratic Party formally asked Greene to withdraw his candidacy. If Greene stays in the race, he will face Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in November.

Though he has recently stopped answering his phone–probably in light of the revelation that he’s being accused of sexually harassing a female college student–The Root spoke with Greene about his campaign. He refused to comment on the harassment charges, but was otherwise forthcoming.

The Root: Hi, Alvin. Thanks for speaking with me. You almost literally came out of nowhere in last night’s victory. What’s your background?

Alvin Greene: I was born in Florence, S.C., but I grew up in Manning, S.C., where I live now. I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2000. And I’m an Air Force and Army veteran, nine months out of the United States Army.

TR: What did you study in college?

AG: Political science.

TR: And what was your specialization in the military?

AG: What was my what?

TR: Did you have a specialization in the Army?

AG: Oh, intelligence. Military intelligence. But my campaign is about getting back to work and getting our priorities in order. There are more unemployed now than any other time in the state’s history.

TR: What have you been doing since leaving the Army?

AG: I’m currently one of the many unemployed. Did you know that we have more unemployed now than any other time in South Carolina’s history? So my campaign slogan is, you know, let’s get South Carolina back to work. And my three issues are jobs, education and justice.

TR: Have you been employed at all since leaving the military?

AG: No, I haven’t. But yes, and another thing, we spend two times more on inmates than students. So, yes.

TR: As an unemployed person, what made you decide to invest thousands of dollars of your own money into your campaign?