News Overflow: Japan-based freelance writer clogs the news drain

I live in Osaka, Japan and write about food and agriculture, stocks, travel and whatever strikes my fickle fancy. This is a grab-bag of on-site photos and observations, along with my very expert opinion. Frankly, this is where I put what my editors don't use. When I clog the news drain, this is where the mess lands.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Greene planted to stir up white vote for SC governor's race?

Here’s my take on the upset South Carolina primary election victories of “Democrats” Alvin M. Greene (for US Senate, to face incumbent Jim DeMint-R) and Ben Fraiser (in the 1st US Congressional District, to face somebody-R). Yes, both are plants, and it has nothing to do with DeMint, who is a shoe-in.

In South Carolina, voters can cast votes in either party’s primary, even if registered to a different party. It’s likely that a number of Republicans crossed over (on plan) to support the black Democrats to rile up racist sentiment among white Republicans. This might be found out by checking whether the Democratic turnout was unusually high in the 1st District.

Both candidates are black, and neither has a realistic chance to win the general election, so the purpose was likely to raise white voter turnout for another contest, as in the case of GOP operative Rod Shealy. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who called for an investigation, said that a felony obscenity charge against Greene reminded him of that 1990 case.

The Senate race, because it is high profile, will get lots of coverage, riling whites who will be eager to express displeasure at a black man accused of showing dirty pictures to a young white girl. The 1st district was no-doubt chosen because it will be important to raise the white turnout in this key district which includes Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Though candidate Frasier has long been seen as a GOP-supported thorn-in-the-side for the Democratic Party, forcing them to expend funds on the primary battle, only this year has he gotten even close to winning.

So, who has a stake in a large white (and race agitated) turnout? My guess is that this is tied to the contest between Republican Congressman J. Gresham Barrett and both his primary and general election opponents for the governorship.

In the primary, which he probably expected to win, he ended up facing State House member Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa Haley, daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants, in a run-off. In the general, he faces a Lebanese-American, State Senator Vincent Sheheen. A large turnout of whites angry with people of other races bodes well for Barrett, both for the impending run-off and for the general. We can expect to see news stories playing up the prospect of voters having to choose between an Indian and a Lebanese for governor if Barrett loses the primary. Much will be made of the Bobby Jindal comparison.

Barrett is already under a cloud for the “Chambergate” campaign funds scandal, in which it appears that Myrtle Beach tourism businesses, through their Chamber of Commerce, funded the elections of legislators who supported a local 1% rise in sales tax that will in large part go back to the Chamber for promotion of the member businesses. A quid pro quo is suspected.

Additionally, Republican consultant Mike Green was arrested and testified to police that he was paid by campaign firm Starboard Communications to create problems at a private party for mayoral candidate Mark McBride. Green was arrested for trespassing at the bar in Myrtle Beach where the event was being held. Green was acting in support of incumbent Mayor John Rhodes, who was re-elected.

Starboard’s president has a prior felony conviction for campaign violations, and Barrett is also a Starboard client. Dirty tricks have already been used in the governor race, with accusations of a sexual affair by Haley, but this apparently backfired, as voters were repulsed by the mud-throwing.
The scent is getting warm. I mark Barrett as the beneficiary of the mysterious election of Alvin Greene.

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