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Rawl Concedes in South Carolina

Yesterday, the South Carolina Democratic Party rejected the election protest filed by Senate candidate Vic Rawl. Today, Rawl packed it up:

The last ten days have been extraordinary.

But for me and Laura, it is the months before that are far more important. I cannot express our gratitude for your support during the campaign and in the days since the primary election.

We hold our heads high, and know that the friendship of people like you is far more important in life that the outcome of any election.

I wanted you to hear from me that we will not be appealing last night’s decision by the Democratic Executive Committee to reject our protest of the election results. My campaign for the United States Senate has ended.

The issues we raised about the lack of election integrity in South Carolina are real, and they are not going away unless people act. I assure you that I will continue to speak out about our frail and vulnerable election system in the months to come.

I also feel strongly that the Democratic Party needs major reform of the rules and procedures regarding ballot qualification, protests and many other areas. This is critical to strengthen the Party and make it broadly competitive in our state.

I have to say, this will go down as one of the most bizarre episodes in recent electoral history.

Yes, I suppose there is a perfectly plausible scenario: The 82 percent of South Carolina Democrats polled who had heard of neither candidate more or less split their votes randomly, 41 percent each, but with a slight advantage for otherwise unknown (and unknowable, so far at least) Alvin Greene because his name was first and/or his surname seemed familiar or more pleasing than Rawl’s, and the remaining 18 percent broke mostly against Rawl because he had higher negatives among them. But primaries are really the fiefdom on party regulars. And even if Rawl did very little during the primary to strategically save his money for the general election bid against incumbent Republican Jim DeMint, the robocalls and simple word of mouth within party ranks ought to have been enough to have won 60/40 instead of losing 60/40. The guy is a judge and former state legislator; word of mouth via current and former Democratic state legislators back in their home counties ought to have been enough to beat a guy who didn’t have so much as a website and who apparently held not a single event.

In any case, the SC Dems probably figured that in the absence of proof, or Greene coming forward to drop out, there was no way to dislodge Greene, an African American and a vet, and make Rawl, who is white, the winner. Had they tried to do so there could have been long-term problems within the party, given the race of the two candidates–whether or not Rep. Jim Clyburn’s supported some sort of investigation or recount or ruling. More broadly, the SC Dems probably resigned themselves to the fact that this wasn’t a fight worth fighting against a Republican incumbent with plenty of money in a conservative state in what is expected to be a bad Democratic year anyway.

The big question is what happens next. The SC Dems already signaled that if Greene did not bow out they would have to distance themselves from him, given his problems with the law and the absurd mystery that was (is!) his campaign. And there’s no way he can beat DeMint…unless there’s something really wrong with those South Carolina voting machines. Wouldn’t that be funny?