Petition candidate for governor Tom Ervin on Monday challenged Gov. Nikki Haley and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen of Camden to a series of monthly debates beginning after July 4th.

The move came as Ervin formally turned in his signatures to get on the ballot as an independent, or petition, candidate.

Ervin needs the verified signatures of 10,000 legal South Carolina voters to get on the ballot. He delivered more than 20,000 to the state Election Commission office.

"We are humbled and grateful for this sign of support," he said.

Ervin of Greenville had tried to turn the names in last Monday but agreed to hold off a week after election office personnel said they were pre-occupied with running last week's statewide party primaries.

Ervin said his call for debates would be for events to be scheduled around the state.

"We have many pressing problems - our education system, our crumbling infrastructure and the need for real ethics reform to restore public trust in our government," Ervin said.

"These issues need to be addressed and can't be with the governor and the senator hiding behind TV ad sound bites paid for by special interest money."

Ervin said he wanted the format to be simple and with no campaign consultant input.

"No fancy rules, no need for a moderator. Just arrive at an agreed upon date and location and the three of us can debate a single topic for 60 minutes," he said. "I'm confident my bold, common sense solutions to South Carolina's pressing challenges will prevail."

The Haley and Sheheen campaigns did not immediately respond for comment.

Ervin is a former circuit court judge and Democratic state lawmaker.