Kayser Enneking is hoping that the second time’s the charm.
On Tuesday, 60-year-old Dr. Kayser Enneking, an anesthesiologist at UF Health Shands Hospital, announced via press release she has officially filed her candidacy to run for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives’ District 21 in Alachua, Gilcrest and Dixie counties. She will represent the Democratic party and hopes to unseat incumbent Chuck Clemons in 2020.
In 2018, she said she lost the District 8 Senate general election by only 2000 votes. Although this disappointed her, she said in an August interview that it also motivated her to run again and finish what she started.
Her main focus will be on reforming health care and advocating for Medicaid’s expansion in Florida, Enneking said.
“I would be better served by actually being in the legislature because I wanted to do something about health care,” she said. “It’s something that I think we can win or I wouldn’t be doing this. It is a way for the patient's voice to be heard.”
Enneking, who is a UF alum and lifelong Gainesville resident, is also a professor and chair for the anesthesiology department at UF. Her decision to become involved with politics was driven by a desire to help people on a larger scale, she said.
“It was an extraordinary change in direction for me,” she said. “I realized I could either take care of six to 10 patients a day, or I could work on a different level and do more good for more people.”
Enneking says her experience in the medical field translates well into politics because it taught her how to talk to people from all walks of life, adapt quickly to changing environments and be a leader.
Bennett Ragan, 21, Enneking’s campaign manager, said that in August 2019, Enneking announced she was going to run, but now, she has officially submitted all of the paperwork to the state.
“That kind of the changes the legal framework. She's now a candidate,” he said.
Ragan said Florida was ranked 47th in the nation for health care access and income inequality. Those numbers came from the 2019 Commonwealth club score-card for health care, in which they rank states based on a variety of different factors, he said.
Enneking’s campaign will focus on access to quality healthcare, as this directly impacts individual economic success and economic freedom, Ragan said.
“That's something that we want to highlight: that we can provide our citizens with access to quality, affordable health care so that they can be happy and they can be healthy,” he said. “They will not have to worry about the cost of healthcare getting in the way of that.”
Ashley Lazarski contributed to this article.
Kayser Enneking, 60, has announced her run against incumbent Chuck Clemons for District 21 in the Florida House.