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Alvin Greene on the issues

Candidate gets beyond the headlines

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Alvin Greene is almost certainly not a Republican plant. Though he trounced the heavily favored establishment candidate by spending virtually no money and running practically no campaign, Greene is also not the type of underdog capable of defeating a Goliath with his wit and ingenuity.

In an hour-long interview with the City Paper, Greene touched on all the issues he hasn't had a chance to get to you. Until now, most interviews have focused on his surprising primary win, his 2009 obscenity arrest, and the unemployed veteran's peculiar decision to spend $10,000 on a primary race he decided he wouldn't campaign for, but won regardless.

In interviews, Greene can come off as both cautious and clumsy. He's slow to answer questions, frequently pausing mid-sentence, and he often uncomfortably repeats talking points. He says he's a "moderate Democrat" who falls to the right of the political spectrum when it comes to offshore drilling, Arizona's new immigration law, and capital punishment, and to the left for civil unions, healthcare, alternative energy, and medicinal marijuana.

Greene believes that BP is at fault for the Gulf oil spill disaster. Nonetheless, Greene still supports offshore drilling.

"I support exploring our energy resources here on earth," says Greene.

Greene advocates the decriminalization of marijuana for medicinal use. He points to television personality Montel Williams, who has multiple sclerosis and has said he uses marijuana as a form of treatment.

Some of Greene's positions, however, are more amorphous. His stance on Arizona's controversial immigration reform, which makes the failure to carry proof of American citizenship a crime and gives the police unchecked power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, is a specific example.

"I think it's the same thing as they [Arizonans] were doing long before; I don't think anything's changed," says Greene of the new law. "If they don't have documents for their proof of citizenry, then really nothing has changed there."

When asked how he felt about concerns that Arizona police would be able to stop anyone who they merely suspected of being in the country illegally, Greene seemed to change his mind.

"The key word is 'suspect' of being illegal; well, that could be anybody! I mean, that could be anyone of any background," says Greene, though noting that he still supports reform.

When it comes to marriage, Greene is old-fashioned. He believes that matrimony is a union "between a male and a female." Asked if he supports civil unions, Greene seemed unfamiliar with the vernacular. After a brief explanation that civil unions are legally recognized contracts between two members of the same sex, granting some of same liberties as marriage, Greene said it seemed "cool" because "it's not a marriage, so there's nothing wrong with that."

A clear proponent of the president, there are many instances where Greene's agenda overlaps with the Obama administration's. For example, he supports new "green" jobs and infrastructure throughout South Carolina, the president's plan to begin withdrawing troops in Afghanistan next July, and a draw down in Iraq this September.

Greene supports healthcare reform. Greene says the legislation is "a step in the right direction by giving everyone insurance coverage." But that's not quite correct. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will likely still leave 5 percent of Americans without insurance.

The candidate is clear about the need to protect what progress has been made on the issue.

"I've said how we have to stop my opponent (GOP Sen. Jim DeMint) and the Republicans from reversing forward progress in S.C.," Greene says. "That's the perfect example of my opponent and the Republican ... reversing forward progress."

Greene's contentious victory over Vic Rawl to become South Carolina's Democratic candidate for Senate seems to simply be a bizarre example of political serendipity. It's likely that the Palmetto State will never know whether he won 60 percent of the electorate because his name falls before Rawl' in the alphabet or because his name reminded voters of musician Al Green. Though state Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler, among others, has called for him to abandon his quest to challenge DeMint, since Greene faces obscenity charges for allegedly trying to show a USC student porn in November of last year, Greene still ardently believes that he is the best candidate.

At the end of the interview, Greene asks whether we think he's the best candidate in the U.S. Senate race.

"I think I've demonstrated why I'm the best candidate in the United States Senate race in South Carolina — period," he says, seemingly reading his words. "And the next sentence is let's stop my opponent and the Republicans from reversing forward progress in South Carolina and the United States of America — and that's the end of the second sentence. And the next sentence is let's get South Carolina and America back to work — and then period. Next sentence is let's get South Carolina ... no, let's bring South Carolina and America back — exclamation point."

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