Columbia, SC (WLTX/AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley's opponent in the June primary has withdrawn from the GOP primary, leaving her unopposed as the Republican nominee. Tom Ervin withdrew from the primary Friday, less than two weeks after filing to run as a Republican.
Ervin says while he plans to withdraw from the June primary, he still plans to seek the Governor's office as a petition candidate. In a news release emailed to News19, Ervin says he needs more time to get his message out to voters and will work to get enough signatures to get his name on the November ballot as a petition candidate.
State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Ervin's name will be removed from June 10 primary ballots. His $4,200 candidate filing fee won't be reimbursed.
Campaign disclosures filed Thursday showed the former House member and judge had loaned himself more than $420,000 toward his bid. He had just $270,000 available as of March 31, compared to Haley's $4.3 million.
Ervin's campaign issued this statement about his intentions to run as a petition candidate:
"After considerable thought and prayer, I have decided to bypass the June 10th Republican Primary in favor of a petition candidacy to place my name on the November General Election ballot for governor. Like most South Carolinians, I'm a fiscal and social conservative with an independent streak. 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.
Four years ago, Nikki Haley promised us transparency and accountability when she became governor. Sadly, Governor Haley has broken those promises. Instead, Haley has delivered four years of missteps, mistakes, scandals and cover-ups – none more disturbing than the ongoing investigation of Governor Haley's cabinet appointee and their gross negligence in failing to protect the children under their watch at DSS.
The Bible says we will be judged by how we treat the least of those among us. That means doing everything within our power to right the wrongs being done to our children at risk. Under her watch, Nikki Haley has turned a blind eye to the plight of our children at greatest risk. It is time for Governor Haley to relieve her appointee at DSS for gross incompetence and mismanagement.
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. Both Nikki Haley and Vince Sheheen are career politicians. I'm a small business owner who will serve as governor and then return home to run my business.
The voters need time to take that long, hard look at the candidates for governor. For that reason, I need more time to introduce myself to South Carolina-to share my solutions for improving our public schools, for expanding school choice, for capping rising college tuition rates and for fixing our crumbling roads and bridges in South Carolina.
I realize that there is not sufficient time to compete with the special interest money that both Governor Haley and Senator Sheheen have already raised. With the GOP June 10th Primary only two months away, this simply does not give me enough time to communicate our positive message for change.
I am withdrawing my candidacy in the Republican Primary and asking that my name not appear on the June 10th Republican Primary ballot. Instead, I have decided to begin gathering signatures of registered voters, as state law provides, to have my name placed on the November ballot as a Republican petition candidate for Governor of South Carolina.
South Carolina deserves a debate on the issues. There are many challenges facing us- our low per capita income levels, our record-low labor participation rates, our underperforming public school test scores, our lack of parental choice, our crumbling roads and bridges and the rash of scandals in Columbia. These challenges demand solutions. Hopefully, all the voters of South Carolina will pay attention to this important debate. Our state is at a turning point. I offer my bold, fiscally conservative common sense Republican solutions to fix these problems created by failed leadership. We will win this debate and, with your help and support, win in the General Election.
I look forward to offering my vision for South Carolina as a Republican in the General Election. I am now joining Nikki Haley, Vincent Sheheen and Steve French on the campaign trail over the next seven months. With your help, we can win back our future and save our children!
Let this campaign of ideas begin!"