A GOP-Backed Spoiler Candidate

I do hope investigators uncover the facts behind the Democratic Senate primary victory of Alvin Greene in South Carolina.

Maybe, as Tom Schaller at 538 says, the simplest explanation is true—a fluke of ballot order, a familiar-enough name, and a race nobody thought mattered—but I’m kind of with the folks who say that just because the stakes are low doesn’t mean no one cares.

I met a guy over cocktails recently who had campaigned for Thad Cochran during his first race for a senate seat in Mississippi in 1978. Cochran campaigned as a Republican for an open seat, vacated by the long-serving Jim Eastland, against a well-regarded African-American Democratic candidate, Maurice Dantin, and a well-funded Independent, Charlie Evers.

My cocktail acquaintance explained that everyone was pretty sure that Thad Cochran would win, but that no one was comfortable with being pretty sure. He told us that the GOP recruited Evers to run in order to split the African-American vote, giving him not only a $100,000 stipend to do so, but funding his entire campaign on top of that.

With a chortle, he recalled thee-man debates in which Cochran and Evers tag-teamed Dantin, boxing him in and mocking him with what sounded like almost a comedy routine of call and response talking points, props included.

Well, this was just a story told to me during a cocktail party. I can’t swear that anything about it is true other than the fact that those 3 men did run for the U.S. Senate from Mississippi, and one of them won and continues to serve.

The actual punchline of the story, really, was that the man telling it rallied his friends at Cochran’s victory party, once enough returns had come in to guarantee their man’s 1st place finish, to attend Evers campaign party instead, where the band was better.

Hilarious, right?

Now, I’m not saying that Charlie Evers in 1978 and Alvin Greene in 2010 are an apples to apples comparison.

Alvin Greene is an enigma. He’s broke, in trouble with the law, and possibly not in the best condition mental health-wise.

Charlie Evers, older brother of Medgar Evers, the assassinated civil rights, has had a long political career in Mississippi. He’d run for governor in 1971, so running for the Senate wasn’t entirely out of the blue.

As I said above, also, I can’t prove that story about Evers taking money to run as a spoiler is true. I wasn’t there, I don’t have the resources to do the research, and I simply don’t know.

But I can’t rule it out, because why on earth would someone even bother to make something like that up 32 years later when it wasn’t even the point of the story? Plus, Watergate.

I’ll be following the story. Let me now if you hear anything interesting.

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