This morning, I was on my way out of having my breakfast at the Capital City Club, and saw today’s WSJ on the sideboard by the door to the grill, and paused to pick it up and glance over the front page.
Then I hear someone say “Brad,” and look up and it’s Liana Orr, and she’s got someone in tow — a guy about my age dressed in a yellow polo shirt. As she’s introducing me, I see that it’s Tom Ervin, the independent candidate for governor.
He’s a pleasant and personable guy, and as he smiles and tells me that he enjoys my blog, I’m thinking, “Yeah, and you probably say that to all the bloggers, but thanks…”
But then he says something to let me know that he’s read the blog at least once.
Back on July 3, I wrote a post headlined “Tom Ervin won’t say how HE’D pay for roads, either.” It took him to task, along with Nikki Haley and Vincent Sheheen, for ducking the simple fact that if we want more money for roads, we already have a mechanism for that — raise the state tax on gasoline.
Today, Ervin tells me that I was right and he was wrong, and now he’s advocating for a gas tax increase. And of course, he makes sure I realize that he is the only candidate for governor who dares to do that.
So I congratulate him on his new position, and thank him for sharing it with me, and walk around the corner, and immediately whip out my notebook. My friend Roscoe Wilson started to say something to me, but I said, “Wait! I have to write something down.” I wanted to get the exact words that Mr. Ervin had said to me, to wit:
You were absolutely right. You were right to call me out on it.
Because those are words that one might normally put in the “Things no politician said to an editorialist, ever” category.
And yeah, he was flattering me and being disarming and all, but the fact is that when I Googled it, I found that six days after my post, this headline appeared in The Greenville News: “Ervin says he’d raise gas tax to fix roads.” From that story:
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has vowed to veto any proposal to raise the gas tax, while her Democratic opponent, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, says he won’t endorse a gas tax hike but is willing to talk about it.
Neither Haley nor Sheheen have a realistic plan to fix roads, “and that’s irresponsible,” Ervin told The Greenville News. “Both of these career politicians should be ashamed for not being truthful to the people and telling them straight up.”
Budget surpluses won’t do the trick, Ervin said, and fees can’t be raised enough to meet all the needs, which a state task force projected to be $29 billion over 20 years.
“Nobody likes a tax increase,” said Ervin, a former judge and state legislator from Greenville. “I don’t like it because I’m constantly on the road, too. But we want our highways to be safe. And we also want to continue to attract quality industry to our state, and you can’t get products to market when the highways are falling apart.”
I don’t know how I missed that. Maybe it didn’t get picked up down here. If I’d read it earlier, I would have written something congratulating him.
Anyway. I may not agree with Tom Ervin on everything, but I definitely appreciate his position on this.