Former newscaster and recent congressional candidate Donna Deegan may have new political life if the first poll of the 2023 Jacksonville mayoral race means anything this far out.
A survey of 1,263 registered voters from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab shows the Democrat is the choice of 19% of 1,263 registered voters in Duval County. That number, as well, resisted demographic divides: 19% of White voters and 18% of Black voters backed Deegan in the survey.
While not all observers are surprised that Deegan looks formidable in a first review of the field, the survey shows the power of name recognition and a durable brand.
Close behind is a declared candidate who is the leading fundraiser among filed mayoral hopefuls. Republican Matt Carlucci was the choice of 18% of those surveyed. Though his fundraising has slowed down, the veteran politico has roughly $700,000 on hand between his campaign account and his state-level political committee, Next Generation Jax.
Coming in third was a familiar face. Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown has 14% support in the poll. Brown, who was narrowly defeated in 2015’s reelection campaign, lost in a comeback attempt in 2018, a primary challenge to Rep. Al Lawson. But that wasn’t for lack of support in Jacksonville, where he defeated Lawson handily.
Notable in this poll: Brown was far and away the top choice of Black voters, with 35% backing him.
Other candidates and potential candidates were second tier, or worse, among respondents. This includes a number of established players in the local political scene.
Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis has raised more than $2 million in four months for his Building a Better Economy political committee pre-candidacy, but Duval County voters shrug. The Westside Republican is the pick of just 6% of those surveyed.
Respondents didn’t seem thrilled with the other Council members beside Carlucci on offer either.
Second-term Democrat Joyce Morgan, who was elected to the City Council after a long stint on a local morning news program, is rumored to be looking at a run, and as of now is backed by just 5% of those surveyed, and just 10% of the Black vote, behind Brown and Deegan.
Even worse news was to be found in the results for Council member Al Ferraro, a second-term Republican who has declared a run, and raised just under $35,000 in two months. He scored just 3% support.
That tied him with yet another Council Republican, LeAnna Cumber. Cumber is exploring a run for Mayor, sources familiar with her thinking have suggested. If she were to run, she would be a strong fundraiser and the only female Republican and Hispanic in the race. But she would start with a modest base.
UNF pollster Michael Binder knows it’s early and these numbers are dynamic.
“Although it’s still very far out from the election, it is interesting to see a relatively even split between Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican Matt Carlucci,” Binder commented. “It will be even more interesting to see how these numbers change over the next two years, as more candidates throw their hats into the ring.”
The poll was conducted by email between May 11 and May 16th.