Tom Ervin jumps out of GOP governor’s race

ashain@thestate.comApril 11, 2014 

Former state Rep. and judge Tom Ervin, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, speaks at a news conference in Columbia on Tuesday along with his wife, Kathryn Williams.

ASHAIN@THESTATE.COM — Andrew Shain

Tom Ervin, a former Greenville lawmaker and judge, said Friday that he has withdrawn from the Republican primary for governor and will run as a petition candidate in the November election.

Tom Ervin, a former Greenville lawmaker and judge, said Friday that he has withdrawn from the Republican primary for governor and will run as a petition candidate in the November election.

Ervin, a 62-year-old attorney and radio station owner, said he needs more time to share his message and could not accomplish that in the short span before the primary.

“I believe South Carolina is ready for fresh new leadership and ready for a governor who cares about our people and not selfish political ambition,” he said. “Both (Republican Gov.) Nikki Haley and (Democratic challenger) Vince Sheheen are career politicians. I’m a small business owner who will serve as governor and then return home to run my business.”

He said he started gathering signatures of registered voters to have his name added to the November ballot as a “Republican petition candidate.”

"I look forward to offering my vision for South Carolina as a Republican in the general election," he said.

When he joined the race late last month, political experts gave Ervin little shot of unseating Haley, whose popularity has grown in the party since her 2010 election. The governor has $4.3 million to spend.

Ervin has loaned his campaign $420,181, according to state records. He had $271,172 on hand after spending money on a consultant and automated robocalls.

He started a six-figure radio ad campaign this week introducing himself to voters.

Ervin was a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party for a unsuccessful run in the 2005 special election to succeed House Speaker David Wilkins, who had been named the U.S. ambassador to Canada. Ervin has said he became a Republican because he’s pro-life and a born-again Christian.

He has donated to GOP candidates in recent years, but his wife, attorney Kathryn Williams, has contributed to candidates in both parties – including $4,500 to Sheheen’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign and $50,000 to the S.C. Democratic Party that same year, according to state records.

Ervin said Friday that he believes his being a “fiscal and social conservative with an independent streak” could sway voters.

“I’m running to reform state government and to restore executive competence, honesty and accountability – especially as it relates to protecting our most vulnerable children in harm’s way,” Ervin said.

He has cited recent state Senate hearings into mismanagement allegations at the S.C. Department of Social Services as a reason for running.

Haley’s camp said she remains “focused on passing landmark education and ethics reforms. There will be plenty of time for campaigning after the legislative session ends.”

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