Independent candidate for governor Tom Ervin announced Tuesday he would suspend his campaign and endorse Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen.
Ervin, who polls had running in third with between 6-11 percent support, caught most of the state’s political world completely off-guard with the announcement. His campaign had taken out a $3.4 million loan just last week. The Sheheen press conference in Greenville where Ervin revealed his endorsement was even being billed as a chance for the Democratic senator to mark the second anniversary of the 2012 Department of Revenue hacking.
“While I don’t agree with Senator Sheheen on all of the issues, I do believe he is a man of integrity. I believe he’s honest. I believe he has the best interests of South Carolina and our citizens at heart. As a Republican, I have to put my state first.”
The announcement ended a circuitous campaign for Ervin, a former Democratic legislator and judge who began supporting Republicans after leaving office in the late 2000s. He entered the GOP primary in March, only to drop out and instead run as an independent two weeks later. He was listed on the ballot after obtaining more than 20,000 signatures.
He has billed himself as an “independent Republican” in campaign ads, criticizing incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley for problems at the Department of Social Services, refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility, and lagging South Carolina incomes that occurred under her watch.
Ervin continued to slam Haley on Tuesday. “This is really troubling, when we have a governor who has chosen to act like a dictator and a tyrant rather than a leader.”
“It was a difficult decision for me, because I was in it to win it,” he added. “And I wanted to offer the people of South Carolina an independent voice free from any kind of political party influence or special interests.”
In his private life, Ervin also owns several radio stations in the Anderson area (one is a South Carolina Radio Network affiliate).