John Rutherford unconcerned by Donna Deegan challenge
Donna Deegan may be facing long odds in her bid against John Rutherford in CD 4, she is still forging ahead.

deegan rutherford
No debates or town halls are planned.

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, seeking his third term in Congress from Northeast Florida, finally has a credible general election challenger waiting.

Earlier this month, longtime Jacksonville broadcaster Donna Deegan launched her run for Congress in the Republican-plurality 4th Congressional District.

Rutherford has faced Democrats before, but these have been tomato can candidates, with little in the way of fundraising, name identification, media savvy, or connections.

Deegan, who raised $85,000 in her first 24 hours and launched with a Kevin Cate hype video, is not that kind of candidate.

However, judging from the Congressman’s comments to media in St. Augustine on Friday, he doesn’t seem especially concerned by Deegan’s bid.

“I tell you, we look forward to talking about a lot of the good things we’ve done for Northeast Florida. Our veterans being one. But also the great assistance we’ve given to the port in Jacksonville and the port in … Fernandina,” the Congressman said.

“I think we’ve got a really great record to run on,” Rutherford added. “More importantly, some of the things we’ve been able to do for our constituents back home.”

“I meet with constituents day in and day out,” the Rutherford noted. “That’s the best part of the job.”

However, those meetings will not extend to town halls, such as the ones Rutherford hasn’t done and Deegan vows to do.

“I don’t do town halls because they’re so dysfunctional,” Rutherford said.

When asked if he would debate Deegan, a courtesy he did not extend previous general election opponents, the Congressman said, “I’m not going to get into that.”

He also wouldn’t discuss whether or not his campaign against Deegan would go negative.

Were that the strategy, Rutherford has resources.

In the third quarter of 2019, Rutherford reported just over $70,000 raised, giving him $228,900 raised for the election cycle, and $443,376 on hand.

The vast majority of the funds raised in the quarter came from corporate political action committees, or PACs.

Rutherford, a former three-term Jacksonville Sheriff, faced his toughest challenge in a battle royale style 2016 GOP primary to replace outgoing Rep. Ander Crenshaw.

Since then, he has been protected by a combination of strong name identification, a deep red district, and underwhelming challengers, as well as a strong Republican plurality. He typically garners roughly 70 percent of the vote.

But he has never faced a challenger like Donna Deegan.

Both Rutherford and Deegan have nominal primary opposition, but barring unforeseeable incapacity or an act of God, they will face each other on the November ballot.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Pedro

    November 22, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Bring it on. Go Donna against this no show spineless republican!

  • Seber Newsome III

    November 22, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Mr.Rutherford is a Republican conservative. Deegan is a George Soros, Andrew Gillum socialist. That is all that needs to be said.

  • Frankie M.

    November 23, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Rutherford might be a Republican but he’s no conservative. That train sailed a long time ago. He’s an opportunist who bends over backwards for his hero Trump.

    He doesn’t do town halls or debates but he’s accessible to his constituents? If you’re scared say you’re scared!

  • Seber Newsome III

    November 24, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for saying that Frankie M. that it is even better. President Trump is our hero, and I am glad Mr. Rutherford thinks so. As far as Donna “socialist” Deegan is concerned, her hero is George Soros. This is my opinion of course.

    • Frankie M.

      November 25, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      You’re welcome…and you’re entitled to your wrong opinion.

Comments are closed.


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