COLUMBIA, SC — Cue the second take.
Tom Ervin, the Greenville lawyer and former legislator and judge running for governor, planned to dropped off ballot petitions with 20,137 signatures last Monday, but the folks at the S.C. Election Commission office told him they were busy with the upcoming Tuesday primary and asked he return later.
So today, Ervin, the self-described "independent Republican," submitted twice as many signatures needed to get on the ballot in the November gubernatorial election.
He needs 10,000 valid signatures to join the race pitting Republican incumbent Nikki Haley, Democrat Vincent Sheheen, Libertarian Steve French and United Citizens candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves. He turned in signatures a month before the final deadline.
Ervin then called for monthly debates between the candidates across the state starting in July. No debate schedule has been announced.
"I will be sending a letter to Governor Haley and Senator Sheheen proposing a monthly debate schedule for the duration of the campaign," Ervin said. "So that we can avoid lengthy debate negotiations by their consultants, let's keep it simple: no fancy rules, no need for a moderator. Just arrive at an agreed upon date and location and the three of us can debate a single topic for 60 minutes."
Sheheen's camp said they would be happy to discuss debates with Ervin and other candidates. Haley's campaign did not respond immediately for comment.
Ervin filed to run in the Republican primary in March but dropped out soon after to pursue a bid as a petition candidate to have more to time to campaign.
GOP critics point to Ervin spending years as a Democrat before his 2005 conversion to the Republican party and his wife's support of Democratic candidates including Sheheen's 2010 gubernatorial bid. State GOP officials have tried to stop Ervin from speaking at local party events.
Ervin started his campaign with $420,181 on his own money and aired radio and television advertisements.