2010 United States Senate election in South Carolina

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Jim DeMint headshot.jpg
AlvinGreene1 (cropped 2).jpg
No image.svg
Nominee Jim DeMint Alvin Greene Tom Clements
Party Republican Democratic Green
Popular vote 810,771 364,598 121,472
Percentage 61.5% 27.7% 9.2%

2010 United States Senate election in South Carolina results map by county.svg
County results

DeMint:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Greene:      40-50%      50–60%      60–70%

U.S. senator before election

Jim DeMint

Elected U.S. Senator

Jim DeMint[1]

The 2010 United States Senate election in South Carolina was held on November 2, 2010. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Jim DeMint won re-election to a second term, defeating Democratic nominee Alvin Greene. However, DeMint did not serve out the full term to which he was elected; he resigned in 2013 to become president of the Heritage Foundation.[2]

As of 2022, this is the last election in which one of the two major parties' nominees for this Senate seat was not a person of color.

Democratic primary

On June 8, 2010, Alvin Greene won the South Carolina Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, receiving 100,362 (59%) votes out of 170,215 votes cast; 69,853 (41%) went to Vic Rawl.[3] Greene's victory over Rawl, a Charleston County councilmember and former state legislator,[4] was described as an upset.[5][6]



Democratic primary results by county: .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  Vic Rawl   Alvin Greene
Democratic primary results by county:
  Vic Rawl
  Alvin Greene
Democratic primary results[7]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Alvin Greene 100,362 59.0%
Democratic Vic Rawl 69,853 41.0%
Total votes 170,215 100.0%

Republican primary



Republican primary results[7]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim DeMint (Incumbent) 342,464 83.0%
Republican Susan McDonald Gaddy 70,194 17.0%
Total votes 412,658 100.0%

General election



Controversies surrounded the Democratic nominee, Alvin Greene. At the time of his Senate campaign, Greene was unemployed and living with and caring for his father[10] in Manning, South Carolina.[11] Greene's primary election win and his margin of victory surprised pundits. As of the primary, he had held no public campaign events, raised no money, and did not have a campaign website.[12]

U.S. Congressman James Clyburn recommended Greene drop out of the race or face a federal investigation into his candidacy, even as Greene faced a felony obscenity charge in Richland County from November 2009. Clyburn said, "There were some real shenanigans going on in the South Carolina primary. I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant."[13] Political blog FiveThirtyEight's Tom Schaller suggested three possibilities: a legitimate vote, the vote was rigged, or the vote-counting software was corrupted. Schaller ruled out the possibility of Republican infiltration, similar to Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" in 2008.[14]

In response to an official protest filed by Vic Rawl, who was defeated by Greene in the Democratic primary, the executive committee of the South Carolina Democratic Party conducted a formal hearing on June 17, 2010 to assess the legitimacy of the primary election results.[15][16] Greene neither attended nor sent a representative to the hearing.[15] The executive committee of the South Carolina Democratic Party voted 55 to 10 to reject Rawl's request for a new Senate primary,[17][18] finding insufficient evidence of impropriety to disturb the primary election result.[17][18][19][20]

At multiple points during the campaign, the South Carolina Democratic Party called for Greene to withdraw his candidacy. In August 2010, South Carolina Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler asserted that the criminal charges against Greene would make it impossible for him to run a statewide campaign.[21]

Green Party challenger Tom Clements won the endorsement of the Greater Columbia Central Labor Council of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, a coalition of labor unions.[22] The Clements campaign received regional media coverage.[23] A Winthrop University poll conducted between October 5 and 10, 741 likely South Carolina voters found Clements running second with 12.2% of the vote against 11.2% for Greene and 58.3% for incumbent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint.[24][25] An October 13 article in the Columbia Free Times noted that prominent Democrats were privately donating money to the Clements campaign.[26] According to the FEC, as of September 30, Clements for Senate had raised $34,334. DeMint had raised in excess of $3 million, while Greene reported no fundraising activities.[27]

Write-in candidates also joined the race, including the Reverend Mazie Ferguson,[28] Mauldin High School teacher Greg Snoad,[29][30][31] Michael C Neumann, and chef Nathalie Dupree.[32] Mazie Ferguson was endorsed by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn in late August; Clyburn said he would not vote for Greene due to his felony indictment.[33]

Greene has been described as an enigmatic figure in American politics.[34][35] He is known for his "strange, well-documented behavior on the campaign trail".[36] A study by the Pew Research Center released in late July 2010 found that Greene's campaign had received the most media attention of all of the 2010 political campaigns.[37]

The Republican candidate, incumbent Senator Jim DeMint, largely campaigned outside South Carolina for Republican Senate candidates identified with the Tea Party.[38] Diverse media outlets frequently referred to DeMint as a party "kingmaker" for supporting successful primary challengers to mainstream Republican candidates.[39][40][41]

At an October 3 appearance before a rally at Spartanburg North Baptist Church, DeMint reminded the audience of his 2004 comments that gay men and sexually active single women should be prohibited from teaching in public schools.[42][43][44] The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported:

DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn't be in the classroom. "(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense," he said. "But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn't back down. They don't want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion."[45]

The remarks attracted national media attention, largely critical.[46] DeMint defended the statements, saying that local school boards should decide the issue.[47] Challenger Tom Clements condemned DeMint's stance in a subsequent interview with the Herald-Journal:

"He's trying to push his version of religion onto the entire country. And I believe in separation of church and state. And I do believe that gay people should have equal rights," Clements said. "That's his belief, but I don't think he can force that on society as a whole or the public school system."[48]


Organization endorsements

Tom Clements:

Jim DeMint

Newspaper endorsements

Tom Clements:

Jim DeMint:


Source Ranking As of
Cook Political Report[57] Solid R October 26, 2010
Rothenberg[58] Safe R October 22, 2010
RealClearPolitics[59] Safe R October 26, 2010
Sabato's Crystal Ball[60] Safe R October 21, 2010
CQ Politics[61] Safe R October 26, 2010


Poll source Dates administered Jim DeMint (R) Alvin Greene (D) Tom Clements (G) Other Undecided
Rasmussen Reports June 10, 2010 58% 21% –– 9% 13%
Rasmussen Reports August 3, 2010 62% 20% –– 7% 10%
Rasmussen Reports August 25, 2010 63% 19% –– 8% 10%
Rasmussen Reports September 22, 2010 64% 21% –– 10% 5%
Crantford & Associates October 2, 2010 58% 21% –– 10% 5%
Winthrop University October 5–10, 2010 58% 11% 12%[62] 3% 14%
Rasmussen Reports October 19, 2010 58% 21% –– 15% 6%


Candidate (party) Receipts Disbursements Cash on hand Debt
Jim DeMint (R) $3,521,210 $2,915,717 $2,224,594 $0
Alvin Greene (D) $0 $0 $0 $0
Tom Clements (G) $45,131 $20,216 $24,915 $0
Source: Federal Election Commission[63]


United States Senate election in South Carolina, 2010[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jim DeMint (Incumbent) 810,771 61.48% +7.81%
Democratic Alvin Greene 364,598 27.65% -16.46%
Green Tom Clements 121,472 9.21% +8.95%
Write-in 21,953 1.66% +1.58%
Majority 446,173 33.83% +24.33%
Total votes 1,318,794 50.12% -18.88%
Republican hold Swing


  1. ^ "Jim DeMint Defeats Alvin Greene In South Carolina Senate Race". Huffingtonpost.com. November 2, 2010. Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Mark Memmott (December 6, 2012). "Sen. Jim DeMint Leaving Congress To Run Heritage Foundation". npr.org. NPR. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  3. ^ South Carolina State Election Commission. Official election results. Note: scroll down or page through the list to find the results for the Democratic Senate primary. US Senate Results (Dem). June 14, 2010.
  4. ^ Kinnard, Meg; Press, Associated (June 15, 2010). "Senate candidate Vic Rawl asks for primary redo". SFGate.
  5. ^ Catanese, David. "Rawl may protest unlikely loss to Greene". POLITICO.
  6. ^ "Greene's Primary Opponent Calls for Investigation of Election Results". Fox News. March 26, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "SC - Election Results". www.enr-scvotes.org.
  8. ^ a b c "SC - Election Results". www.enr-scvotes.org.
  9. ^ Green, Libertarian, Working Families, Labor, Constitution, United Citizens, Independence - List of candidates who have filed with these parties. Tom Clements was nominated May 1 during the South Carolina Green Party Convention in Columbia. Candidates were nominated by convention and did not appear on Republican or Democratic primary ballots.
  10. ^ Wolfe, Wes. http://www.wolfereports.com/tag/alvin-greene/ Strange happenings in the Dem senatorial primary. Archived June 10, 2010, at archive.today Wolfe Reports. May 21, 2010.
  11. ^ Hutchins, Corey. A Phantom Candidate for U.S. Senate? Free Times. Issue #23.20 :: May 19, 2010 – May 25, 2010
  12. ^ Catanese, David (June 11, 2010). "Experts review S.C. Senate ballots". Politico.Com. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
  13. ^ "The curious case of Alvin Greene, surprise Senate candidate". Christian Science Monitor. CSMonitor.com. June 11, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
  14. ^ Schaller, Tom. "Politics Done Right: SC Democratic Primary Getting Weirder By The Hour". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Kinnard, Meg (June 17, 2010) "SC Dems hearing protest over US Senate primary", The Associated Press. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  16. ^ O'Donnell, Kelly (June 16, 2010) "SC Dems to hold hearing on Greene tomorrow" , MSNBC.com. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Capehart, Jonathan (June 18, 2010) "Green light for Alvin Greene's senate run". The Washington Post., The Washington Post. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  18. ^ a b Washington, Wayne (June 18, 2010) "Democrats uphold Greene’s nomination for Senate" Archived June 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, The State.com. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  19. ^ Kinnard, Meg. "SC Dems uphold US Senate primary shocker", The Associated Press. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  20. ^ Toeplitz, Shira (June 18, 2010) "S.C. Dems reject Rawl appeal", Politico. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  21. ^ Siegel, Elyse (August 16, 2010). "Alvin Greene Howls After Obscenity Indictment Raised In Interview (VIDEO)". HuffPost.
  22. ^ SC Black News Staff Writer (July 15, 2010). "Unions Endorse US Senate Green Party Candidate Tom Clements". SCBlacknews.com. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  23. ^ And in the Third Corner…An interview with Tom Clements, Green Party Candidate for U.S. Senate Archived October 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. By Darien Cavanaugh. Columbia City Paper. October 6, 2010.
  24. ^ Winthrop Poll Shows Haley Ahead and Other Opinions by S.C. Voters Archived March 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Winthrop Poll, October 13, 2010
  25. ^ Winthrop Poll Shows Haley Ahead and Other Opinions by S.C. Voters Winthrop Poll Questions and Answers. Page 2. October 13, 2010
  26. ^ Corey Hutchins (October 13, 2010). "Democrats Step Out for Clements — Quietly". Columbia Free Times. Vol. 23, no. 41. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010.
  27. ^ 2010 House and Senate Campaign Finance for South Carolina[permanent dead link] All Senate Candidates -- SC
  28. ^ Gilbert, James (August 9, 2010). "Write-In Candidate to Challenge DeMint, Greene, Clements". WTLX.com. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  29. ^ CNN (September 6, 2010). "New Candidate in South Carolina Race?". CNN.com. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  30. ^ WYFF4.com (September 6, 2010). "Gray Court Man Jumps Into Senate Race". wyff4.com.
  31. ^ Mauldin High School. "Welcome to Mauldin High School".
  32. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (September 30, 2010). "Nathalie Dupree to Jump Into South Carolina Senate Race - NYTimes.com". Thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  33. ^ "Clyburn won't vote for Dem nominee in Senate race". The Associated Press. August 25, 2010. Archived from the original on August 27, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  34. ^ SEELYE, KATHARINE Q. (July 10, 2010). "Enigmatic Jobless Man Prepares Senate Campaign". The New York Times.
  35. ^ Kinnard, Meg (July 12, 2010). "Alvin Greene, Enigmatic South Carolina Senate Candidate, To Make First Public Speech". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  36. ^ Weiner, Juli (July 29, 2010). "Alvin Greene Documentarians Have Their Work Cut Out for Them". Vanity Fair.
  37. ^ Davis, Susan (July 26, 2010). "Alvin Greene Gets Most Media Attention - Washington Wire - WSJ". Blogs.wsj.com. Archived from the original on August 28, 2010. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  38. ^ DeMint Transfers Campaign Money to State Republicans Archived October 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. By David M. Drucker, CQ-Roll Call. CQ POLITICS NEWS. October 18, 2010 – 1:20 p.m.
  39. ^ Jim DeMint: Call him the kingmaker. S.C.'s DeMint a star on the rise. By James Rosen. McClatchy Newspapers, Washington Bureau. Sunday, September 19, 2010.
  40. ^ DeMint Vaults From Back Bench to Republican Kingmaker: While Sarah Palin gets most of the attention for having helped numerous unlikely candidates win Republican primaries this year, DeMint emerged as an even bigger force. By Lisa Lerer. Bloomberg News. SPECIAL REPORT September 16, 2010, 4:36PM EST.
  41. ^ Jim DeMint: Conservative 'Kingmaker' or Inside-the-Beltway Interloper? Matt Lewis, Columnist. Politics Daily. May 25, 2010.
  42. ^ Tenenbaum, DeMint exchange unpleasantries on social security, taxes, gay teachers Archived December 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. WISTV. Associated Press. October 4, 2004.
  43. ^ Meet The Press. Transcript for October 17, 2004. Guests: Ken Mehlman, Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Manager, Bob Shrum, Kerry-Edwards '04 Campaign Chief Strategist, Rep. Jim DeMint, (R-S.C.), Republican Senate Candidate, Inez Tenenbaum, South Carolina State Superintendent of Education, Democratic Senate Candidate.
  44. ^ Sen. Jim DeMint: Gays And Unmarried, Pregnant Women Should Not Teach Public School. Amanda Turkel. Huffington Post. October 2, 2010.
  45. ^ DeMint addresses conservative issues at Spartanburg church rally. By Lynne P. Shackleford. Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 3:15 a.m.
  46. ^ Jim DeMint Criticized Over Comments on Gay and Sexually Active Teachers. By Brian Montopoli. CBS News, Political Hotsheet. October 5, 2010 2:04 PM.
  47. ^ DeMint defends 'no gay teachers'. UPI. Published: October 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM
  48. ^ Clements criticizes DeMint on gay teacher issue: Opponent for Senate blasts incumbent for stance on who is fit to teach. By Jason Spencer. Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 3:15 a.m.
  49. ^ "Endorsements - Politics". Sierra Club. Archived from the original on January 16, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  50. ^ "Unions Endorse US Senate Green Party Candidate Tom Clements". Scblacknews.com. July 15, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
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  53. ^ Illegal Immigration: Americans Fighting Back. "ALIPAC - ALIPAC 2010 Endorsements for US Congress and Senate". Alipac.us. Archived from the original on December 22, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
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  61. ^ "Race Ratings Chart: Senate". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on October 28, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  62. ^ "Catherine H" (PDF). Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  63. ^ "2010 House and Senate Campaign Finance for South Carolina". fec.gov. Retrieved October 18, 2010.[permanent dead link]. Next F.E.C. reports are due October 15, 2010.
Official campaign websites (Archived)