Dems beat DeSantis-endorsed candidate in Florida’s biggest city
Democrat Donna Deegan, a former television anchor and founder of a charity group that works with breast cancer victims, on Tuesday upset Republican Daniel Davis to win the mayor’s race in Jacksonville.
Deegan becomes the first female mayor in Jacksonville history, having defeated a candidate who outspent her significantly. Her opponent had the backing of the Republican Party of Florida and the endorsement of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Everybody said it could not be done in Jacksonville,” said Deegan, who said the campaign and its volunteers had worked for a year and a half ahead of the election. Deegan drew 52 percent of the vote.
Davis — a former legislator and CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce — and his allies hit Deegan over her participation in Black Lives Matter protests, and the local sheriff said she would install “radical policies” if elected. Deegan pushed back by calling the attacks smears and billed herself as a candidate who would change a city government that had been dominated by Republicans. Deegan was also able to score some Republican endorsements ahead of Election Day.
Deegan’s victory gives Florida Democrats a psychological boost just months after the November 2022 elections in which DeSantis won his re-election victory by nearly 20 points, and Republicans crushed Democrats across the state. Democrats all over Florida erupted with glee on social media over Deegan’s win.
Nikki Fried, the former Agriculture commissioner who took over the helm of the party earlier this year, made the Jacksonville race a top priority.
Jacksonville’s current mayor — Lenny Curry, a Republican — could not run again due to term limits.