South Carolina’s self-styled “independent Republican” gubernatorial candidate Tom Ervin released a radio ad this week challenging Gov. Nikki Haley on the issue of ethics reform.

Missed the spot? Of course you did. It was on the radio … and about ethics reform. And while Haley is exceedingly vulnerable on this issue, it’s not exactly the sort of thing that sends voters stampeding to the nearest AM dial.

Buried within the Ervin spot, though, was a reference that caught our attention …

“Remember, independent Republican Tom Ervin will be on the November fourth ballot,” the candidate says in the spot.

That’s no small boast, people …

For a petition candidate to earn a spot on the November ballot, they must submit 10,000 valid signatures to the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC) by July 15.

Which is no small task …

Apparently Ervin is either well on his way to reaching that threshold – or has hit it already. Either way, that’s additional evidence of a campaign with the resources necessary to cause Haley some serious headaches in a general election – which is the real story behind Ervin’s latest radio ad.

In addition to Haley and Ervin, S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen is running for governor as a Democrat. Sheheen came within four points of Haley during their first head-to-head matchup in 2010. Libertarian Steve French – a Lowcountry small businessman – will also be seeking the nomination.