Cayuga County Legislature Chairman Keith Batman is seeking re-election on November's ballot unopposed, but Republican Bobby Massarini hopes to steal the District 7 seat through a write-in campaign.
Massarini came late to the campaign scene, missing the Cayuga County Board of Elections' summer deadline for filing petitions. Batman filed his petitions on time, and thus is the only name to appear on the ballot for the seat.
But with a Republican majority in District 7, which includes the towns of Springport, Scipio and Ledyard, Massarini said the numbers are there to win if people will write in his name.
Massarini, who is the owner of the Lost Kingdom Brewery and Fire House Distillery in Ovid, is no stranger to the political scene. He was a candidate for the 54th Senate District seat in 2016, seeking the Republican nomination. Though he was unsuccessful, he is taking that experience to his write-in campaign.
"It was a great experience," he said about his run for senate, "especially the fact that I got to listen to a lot of peoples' concerns."
He said he decided to run against Batman after he was approached by farmers, local law enforcement and party leaders. He claims that Batman "is not a fan of the local farmers," and believes that is apparent when examining the water quality concerns and how the county has reacted around Owasco Lake.
Having seen one of Massarini's mail fliers advocating for better water quality, among other things, Batman said the messaging included all the things he stands for.
"I swear, I looked at that and I said, 'Well, I guess he's (Massarini) going to vote for me, because the positions he said are so important, are all things that I've not just been concerned about, but I have done," Batman said.
Batman pointed to how the county has made significant advances getting rid of hydrilla, an invasive species in Cayuga Lake. He's also worked closely with the city of Auburn, town of Owasco, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Cayuga County Health Department and others to address the harmful algal bloom toxins in Owasco Lake. As chairman, too, he pointed out, he's presented a balanced 2017 budget and plans to do the same for 2018.
"I think that I absolutely run on my record," he added.
According to the state Board of Elections, there are 1,416 active Republicans in Springport, Scipio and Ledyard combined. There are 1,047 active Democrats. Batman is running on the Democrat, Working Families and Women's Equality Party lines.
Cayuga County Board of Elections Commissioner Katie Lacey said it's not important to get the exact name of a candidate on the ballot when choosing a write-in.
"As long as it's recognizable as what they intended it would be counted," she said.
Write-ins can be tricky because they have to be hand counted, she added. That being said the board can usually tell if a campaign was significant because if a voter chooses to write someone in, the ballot goes into a different compartment of the voting machine and is tallied separately.
"If it's going to be close enough that there's a question on the winner of the race, we'd do it (count the votes) as soon as possible," she said. "Usually, if there's an active write-in campaign, people know it so we're a little bit more prepared for it. If we just have a flood of votes for Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, we don't spend a lot of time agonizing over the count."
Online producer and politics reporter Robert Harding contributed to this report.