Run by spoiler in Perry-Enneking race provided state model

Run by spoiler in Perry-Enneking race provided state model

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State Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville. talks to reporters after winning a Senate race against Democratic candidate Kayser Enneking in 2018, a race in which independent Charles Goston acted as a spoiler.

A growing political scandal involving candidates recruited to run as spoilers in Florida statehouse races should have a familiar ring to Gainesville-area residents. 

A similar campaign was run here three years ago — and the lack of consequences for these underhanded tactics might have emboldened political operatives to employ them elsewhere.

Republican state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, faced a serious challenge in 2018 from Democrat Kayser Enneking, a University of Florida anesthesiologist. But Republican operatives helped an independent candidate, Charles Goston, act as a spoiler in the District 8 race.

Goston, a registered Democrat and former Gainesville city commissioner, received about 4,300 votes — more than double the margin by which Perry beat Enneking.

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The race was cited recently in a Daytona Beach News-Journal article on Frank Artiles, a former Republican state senator expected to stand trial Aug. 30 on felony charges stemming from accusations he paid a similar “ghost candidate” in a South Florida state Senate race.

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