Talk about “all that and then some …”

Self-styled “independent Republican” gubernatorial candidate Tom Ervin will file more than 20,000 signatures with the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC) this week, sources familiar with his announcement tell FITS. That’s twice the number of signatures needed for Ervin to qualify as a petition candidate on the November 2014 ballot.

“We are simply grateful that by the hard work of so many, we have given voice to the thousands of South Carolinians who say enough is enough, it is time to put South Carolina first,” Ervin said in a statement.

Ervin’s impressive petition filing – which included signatures from all forty-six South Carolina counties – is the first tangible sign of trouble for the reelection bid of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, whose first-term hypocrisy and incompetence has been given short shrift given the presumed inevitability of her reelection.

No more …

With Ervin on the ballot (in a resounding way), Haley must now fight to protect votes that otherwise would have naturally accrued to her in a “Republican” dominated state.  Reporters covering the race are also likely to pay closer attention to – and dig deeper into – Haley’s missteps seeing as her reelection is now no longer a “sure thing.”


Ervin’s qualification for the ballot also dramatically changes the ideological makeup of the race. For example, one of Ervin’s thrusts has been Haley’s abandonment of the parental choice issue – which she previously supported as a lawmaker.

Recent polls show parental choice surging in popularity in South Carolina – and Ervin’s campaign prominently featured the issue in its first television ad earlier this spring. Ervin has also been hammering Haley over her hypocrisy and failure to lead on ethics reform, as well as the debacle in her cabinet.

Last week, Haley belatedly accepted the resignation of Lillian Koller at the S.C. Department of Social Services. Koller is Haley’s fourth cabinet appointment to resign in disgrace amid a major scandal.

In pushing reforms abandoned by Haley – and calling out the governor for her failures – Ervin has emerged as a much more credible opponent to the governor than Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen. Assuming he has the resources to continue building his own name identification statewide and  exposing Haley’s failings, he could wind up being the horse to watch in a suddenly wide open gubernatorial campaign.

In addition to Ervin, Haley and Sheheen, Lowcountry businessman Steve French’s name will also appear on the November ballot as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for governor.