COLUMBIA - Tom Ervin, the independent candidate for governor, plans to release a new television advertisement Thursday that highlights his appreciation of the military and calls attention to a good deed he did for the elderly widow of a service member.

The statewide advertising buy is the first since Ervin was officially placed on November's ballot. The campaign said it is also planning to roll out a series of issue advertisements in the coming weeks. Those advertising buys are expected to total $2 million, according to a source close to the campaign.

The newest advertisement, called "That's Tom," features the voice of his wife, Kathryn Williams, relating a story from December 2004 when Ervin paid for the funeral of a World War II-era service member, Charlie Thompson, whose widow had no funds to do so.

Ervin also organized other veterans to attend the funeral at First Baptist Greenville, according to Ervin and the advertisement.

"Charlie Thompson was sent home by the VA (hospital) because they said he was 'getting better,'" Kathryn Williams says in the advertisement. "He died at home within days. His elderly widow was penniless and came to see my husband, Tom Ervin, to find out if he could get the VA to at least pay for a small funeral. The VA said no. So, Tom insisted we pay for the funeral."

The words "common sense" flash across the screen.

"I think it shares a story in a way that shows my appreciation to those who serve our country and my respect to those who serve our country," Ervin said of the advertisement. "We need a governor that cares more about our people then their next political job. I want to draw a contrast between who I am and those career politicians who are also involved in this race."

Ervin's advertisement comes on the heels of a new advertisement from Gov. Nikki Haley, who also faces Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen and Libertarian Steve French in November. Haley's advertisement touts the Department of Social Services' welfare-to-work program, which the governor said has moved 20,000 South Carolinians off welfare during her tenure.

Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.