CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The sequel to the 2010 Gubernatorial showdown between Governor Nikki Haley and Democratic challenger, Senator Vincent Sheheen has followed a similar script to the original. But like all good sequels, it does have a twist. Independent candidate, Tom Ervin decided to skip the primary and jump into the race late in the summer. You've probably seen his ads on television. He may have stopped by your local diner for a town hall. Ervin thinks he can do more than just change the race. He believes he can win.
"We're going to solve the problems we face," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting around the state and meeting as many people as I can. We're going to win this race."
Tom Ervin has been playing catch up to the leading candidates, but believes he's more than just a spoiler. The Anderson County native owns radio stations in Anderson, practices law with his wife in Greenville, and was a circuit court judge for almost 15 years. But he's no stranger to state government. Ervin served two terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1979 to 1983. He's been a democrat and a republican, but is running now as an independent.
"I think people are sick and tired of political parties," Ervin explained. "I want to represent the people of this state and solve our problems."
Ervin flooded televisions with a reported $2-million ad campaign in August, outlining what he calls his "Common Sense" approach to governing South Carolina.
When talking about his plans as governor, Ervin said "We're going to improve our infrastructure; our crumbling roads and bridges. We're going to fix tax reform. I want to repeal the state's individual income tax. We're going to make South Carolina a much better place to live and work."
He goes on to say "We're going to improve our public education system; expand pre-K to every child in the state. We're going to cap college tuition for young people getting an education, so they don't have to carry that large student debt when they start their careers."
Even without major party support, and without the track record and name recognition of the leading candidates, Ervin believes he can do more than just steal votes from his opponents.
"We're going to small towns and large towns. We're going to take our message of hope and reform straight to the people, ask them for their support, and the response has been tremendous. We're so excited."
Ervin said he finally made his decision to run after he says Governor Haley ignored his request to fix the Department of Social Services. Just last week Ervin called on state lawmakers to hold a special session to take control of D.S.S. from the Governor's office. He's also pushing for a legislative audit council to release independent findings concerning D.S.S.