Coming from the television industry, I’m often struck by how closely South Carolina’s political news resembles a made-for-TV drama.
For example, former Gov. Mark Sanford’s trip to Argentina and subsequent tearful confession seemed liked it belonged in the script of the cheesiest cable soap imaginable. Add in the involvement of Sen. Jake “you don’t investigate an investigator” Knotts, who tipped the media to Sanford’s disappearance before leading the call for his resignation, and you’ve got a steamy political intrigue that would make Dallas proud.
Former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin’s double life as local drug kingpin “Big Dog” was basically just a rural version of The Wire, with federal investigators listening in as Melvin extorted drug dealers and sold cocaine from his police SUV.
Then there’s the political drama surrounding Gov. Nikki Haley’s run for office, and the multiple men who claimed extramarital affairs with the then-state representative. That comedy of errors could have made an entire miniseries, although these days her administration seems more like All the King’s Men than The West Wing.
However, none of those stories match the jaw-dropping, circus-like circumstances of Alvin Greene’s 2010 run for the U.S. Senate. Luckily, Free Times reporter Corey Hutchins and military correspondent David Axe have storyboarded the script behind that bizarre election into a compelling graphic novel called The Accidental Candidate.
(And make no mistake, Greene’s campaign was absolutely a circus. How else do you explain a candidate whose only means of campaigning included photo-bombing TV anchors at the state fair?)
Hutchins’ graphic novel, which was illustrated by Blue Delliquanti, may not be the superhero comic that Greene discussed at his “victory party” — that sad scene is also included in The Accidental Candidate — but it does provide a more or less comprehensive look at the motives behind Greene’s doomed Senate campaign, starting with the Army dropout’s early life. Throughout the graphic novel you’ll find cameos by South Carolina political figures such as Gov. Sanford, the late GOP consultant Rod Shealy, former SCDP officials Carol Fowler and Jay Parmley, as well as a few other familiar faces.
There’s also plenty of background on Greene’s opponent, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, and the tea party which has turned DeMint into a national conservative leader. Hutchins is the reporter who broke the news of Greene’s candidacy in the first place, and he and Axe relied on plenty of first- and second-hand sources in compiling their graphic novel.
Hutchins talked about the graphic novel on last week’s episode of Pub Politics, which you can watch below:
All in all, The Accidental Candidate is a great chronicle of one of the wackiest of South Carolina’s considerably wacky political stories. We’re just looking forward to the sequel, whether it involves Greene or not — since you just know something even crazier is going to happen around here sooner or later.
That being said, we’re still waiting to find out whether Greene’s cat was really named Purr.