My very gratifying conversation with Tom Ervin, who now favors a gas tax increase

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.

6 thoughts on “My very gratifying conversation with Tom Ervin, who now favors a gas tax increase

  1. Juan Caruso

    No surprise in Erwin wanting a gas tax increase, Brad, — it is customary for those of his true stripe. The newbie Republican has been a lifelong Democtratich lawyer turned Republichan. I had him pegged for R.I.N.O. as soon as he had announced.

    While there can be little doubt as to which party is helping fund Erwin’s seriously doomed campaign, I am somewhat surprised that any Dem leader within S.C. have went along with the DNC assessment that Erwin will drain more votes from Nikki than Vinnie. That is very difficult to believe.

    Speaking of Vinnie’s campaign, his allegation of lawbreaking by DSS indicates two things:
    1. a sense of perfect timing to hang another cloud that cannot be fully investigated before the election, and
    2. his utter desperation in either winning the governership in 2014, or becoming a has-been.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      So I suppose you’d put Sen. Greg Gregory in that category of “RINO,” too. I meant yesterday to call y’all’s attention to his excellent column that shows, by the numbers, why we have to raise the gas tax. Didn’t get time. Probably won’t have time today. In the meantime, here’s the link and here’s an excerpt:

      4: South Carolina’s rank among 50 states in miles of state-maintained roads.
      41,460: The number of those miles.
      47: Where S.C. fuel tax ranks among the states.
      1: Recent ranking of Rock Hill for the nation’s cheapest fuel.
      16.75 cents: South Carolina’s fuel tax per gallon.
      1987: When the state’s fuel tax last was increased.
      7.8 cents: Purchasing power of the tax today compared to 1987.
      33 cents: What the per-gallon tax would be today if it had been adjusted for inflation since 1987.
      6 cents: S.C. fuel tax in 1937, when paving began on many of what were then farm-to-market roads.
      36.5 cents: North Carolina’s fuel tax….

  2. T.J. Harrington

    I don’t think the fact that Ervin supports a tax increase makes him a “RINO” in any way shape or form. Republicans have always been the party of responsible government, including living/spending within our means and limiting spending to the core services the government should provide. Unquestionably, one of those core functions is providing and maintaining infrastructure. This service is doubly important when attempting to promote business growth- another plank in the platform of the Republican party.

    Just because a Republican candidate falls into the moderate, business friendly, fiscal responsibility category rather than the foaming at the mouth libertarian, isolationist, abolish the fed, the moon landing didn’t happen camp does not make him or her a “RINO”.

    I don’t support Tom Ervin and wouldn’t vote for him. (I can’t since I actually live in NC, currently). Even with that said, the term “RINO” is a junk term that provides little to no value in serious political discourse. I appreciate and applaud Tom staking out an actual position as opposed to the two “major” candidates. Haley is running on inertia and that there is an “R” next to her name on the ballot. Shaheen is running on the “I hate Haley” platform, which has required little to no leadership thus far. Irvin is at least adding something to the discussion.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Not only is this true:

      Just because a Republican candidate falls into the moderate, business friendly, fiscal responsibility category rather than the foaming at the mouth libertarian, isolationist, abolish the fed, the moon landing didn’t happen camp does not make him or her a “RINO”.

      But I would take it farther…

      A candidate who “falls into the… business friendly, fiscal responsibility category” is a real Republican, by the established definition.

      The libertarians are the newcomers, and don’t get to define what a Republican is…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Sorry about the jarring shifts between past and present tense in this post. I caught myself doing that in another post today. Don’t know what’s gotten into me…


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