Perry wins re-election for Senate District 8

Virginia

Southeast / Virginia 8 Views

Independent Charles Goston pulled in about 4,200 votes district wide. The margin between Republican Keith Perry and Democrat Kayser Enneking was less than that.

Republican state Sen. Keith Perry won his highly contentious District 8 race Tuesday by defeating first-time Democratic candidate Kayser Enneking and independent Charles Goston.

It will be Perry’s second term in the Senate after serving several terms as a state representative. The district covers Alachua, Putnam and northern Marion counties.

"It's just a relief right now," Perry said. "Campaigns are tough, it's a grind. I'm ready to get it behind us."

Perry, R-Gainesville, said he's excited to get back to work for the district and said his No. 1 policy will be getting music, drama and art back in elementary school. He also said he's excited to see the new University of Florida school of music facility that will be built on the corner of West University Avenue and 13th Street.

"It's going to be a game changer, it's going to be a world-class facility," he said.

With nearly all votes counted, Perry took the district with 49.8 percent of the vote. Enneking earned 48 percent.

Perry took Marion and Putnam counties handily. He received nearly 62.5 percent in Marion to Enneking’s 35 percent. In Putnam, it was much of the same, with Perry earning 68 percent, or 19,032 votes, to Enneking’s 30 percent. Sixty percent of Alachua County voters backed Enneking.

Enneking, an anesthesiologist at UF, said she was disappointed with the defeat but said she was proud of the support her campaign gathered statewide and nationally. She called Perry to concede before Alachua County totals were in.

“I told him I hope he represents the district well,” she said. “I left it all on the field. There’s not many more things that we could’ve done.”

Leading into the primary race, Enneking battled roughly $100,000 in dark money mailers and commercials that attacked her, while supporting her lesser-funded opponent. The money led back to the GOP.

Soon after, independent candidate Charles Goston, a registered Democrat, began receiving mysterious money into a committee from a newly created Washington, D.C., organization. The bulk of Goston’s individual funding came from Republican lobbyists in Tallahassee. Goston said last week that he didn’t know where the money came from and that it didn’t concern him.

Goston pulled in about 4,200 votes districtwide. The margin between Perry and Enneking was less than that.

Some, including the Enneking campaign, suggested Goston was in the race simply to split the Democratic vote to help Perry win re-election, though Goston denies that was his motive.

Perry said he's sure that Goston being in the race played a role in his victory, but isn't sure how much of a factor it was.

“I’m disappointed for the kids,” Enneking said. “I wasn’t doing this for my future. I’m doing it for them … Our job is to hold people accountable, and that tomorrow comes and we keep it at.”

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