No matter how much of his own money he spends, Tom Ervin isn’t likely to get out of bed as governor-elect of South Carolina on Nov. 6. But it’s possible that his candidacy could produce the best wake-up call Sen. Vincent Sheheen ever received in his life when that morning arrives.
While the Kershaw County senator is off to another lackluster start in his rerun bid against Gov. Nikki Haley, Sheheen at least seems to realize she is his opponent this time. In the 2010 gubernatorial race, Sheheen and the Democratic Party wasted vast amounts of time and money running against: Mark Sanford.
Seemingly unaware that Sanford wasn’t on the ballot, Sheheen and the Dems spent big on ads in which he looked earnestly to camera and said such irrelevant things as “I stood up to Mark Sanford …” and “After eight years of Mark Sanford …” It was painful, pitiful and politically brain-dead. It was also Haley’s path to victory, taking the focus off controversies surrounding her and allowing her to do what she does best: campaign.
Haley is good on the stump, good on TV and good at connecting with people, all things that don’t seem to come as easily to Sheheen, his considerable intelligence and experience notwithstanding. Moreover, she is the incumbent Republican governor in a Republican state in an off-year election, which favors Republican candidates. The bottom line is Sheheen needs some sort of outside assistance to have any chance of knocking off Haley in November.
Enter Tom Ervin and his 20,137 signatures. The former legislator and State Circuit judge from Anderson County delivered petitions to the S.C. Election Commission this week containing twice the number of signatures required to get him on the November ballot as an independent candidate for governor (or “independent Republican,” as he likes to call himself).
Of course, at least 10,000 of those signatures have to be certified first. Moreover, as the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Steve Benjamin learned last fall, gathering enough signatures to get on the ballot does not automatically translate into support at the voting booth.
While the Chamber footed the bill to pay a Georgia firm to solicit the signatures necessary to put the strong mayor referendum on the ballot, the measure was trounced at the polls. I don’t know whether Ervin’s signatures are the result of grassroots support or greenbacks at work — and the news media should ask him — but it now seems likely he will be a choice for voters when they enter the booth in November.
That makes Ervin a very real threat to Haley, much more so than Sheheen himself. Why? Simply put, because Ervin could conceivably take enough votes from Haley to allow Sheheen to win with 47 percent of the vote, the same percentage he received in 2010. While Haley won, she underperformed the usual statewide margin of victory for Republicans in this red state, getting 51 percent of the vote.
In other words, if Ervin peels off 4 or 5 percentage points from Haley, Sheheen can win without improving on his 2010 performance. That’s what makes it possible — and interesting. While I doubt that Sheheen can get much, if anything, beyond that 47 percent, the question is whether Haley can be pulled down below her 51 percent total of the last election. The most recent Winthrop Poll showed her holding steady at 52 percent.
The problem for Haley is that Ervin is going to take votes from her, not Sheheen. While I know Republican operatives like to suggest he is just as likely to pull from Sheheen, I don’t buy it. Ervin is very much running against Haley from within the Republican Party, seeking the votes of those disaffected with the governor.
Moreover, he is from and well known in the GOP vote-rich Upstate, while Haley’s base is in the less Republican Midlands. Ervin’s best opportunity to get votes is where the most Republican votes are, meaning he could have a disproportionate impact on statewide results with a decent showing in the Upstate.
While Haley may have gotten the opponent she wanted in Sheheen, she may also be getting the one she didn’t in Ervin. Stay tuned.
Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Not Your Typical Greek Restaurant
Ariana’s in West Columbia serves up delicious all-natural, low carb dishes, as well as homemade bread and baklava. Come try the best salad dressing in town! Location info and hours here.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com