Lee County Republicans decided not to contest the 2017 Sanford municipal elections (subscription required), but that didn’t stop speculation about the possibility of an under-the-radar write-in candidate knocking off an incumbent or two thanks to low turnout.
That didn’t happen, of course: Sanford Mayor Chet Mann and City Councilmen Sam Gaskins, Chas Post, and J.D. Williams were each re-elected on Tuesday with more than 96 percent of the vote.
But the possibility of a write-in campaign was on some minds. Gaskins, at least, mentioned it briefly in today’s edition of the Sanford Herald (subscription required), and it had been a topic of discussion in various local political circles.
It turns out the speculation wasn’t entirely unfounded. In a Facebook screenshot provided to the Rant, Republican Bill Oberkirsch, who unsuccessfully challenged Gaskins in 2013, publicly asked Ward 1 voters to write him in for the seat in a Facebook post 92 minutes before the close of polls on Tuesday:
“Sam should not get the city counsel (sic) with less then (sic) 120 votes,” Oberkirsch wrote. “don’t let him win with so few votes.”
While 11 write-in votes to Gaskins’ 325 were cast in the Ward 1 race, whose name was written will be unknown until the vote is officially canvassed in the coming weeks. It’s also unclear what percentage of those 11 write ins occurred during the multiple weeks of early voting, the first eleven and a half hours of Election Day, and the hour and a half between Oberkirsch’s post and the close of polls.