‘Jacksonville can do better’: Donna Deegan launches mayoral run

Donna Deegan
Democrats sat out the 2019 campaign.

For the first time since the 2015 campaign, a Democrat will run for Jacksonville Mayor.

Former newscaster Donna Deegan said Tuesday she would formalize what has been a functional pre-campaign, adding bipartisan texture to the 2023 field.

In 2019, Democrats didn’t field a candidate against Republican Mayor Lenny Curry. Curry defeated Democrat Alvin Brown four years prior.

“Jacksonville can do better,” Deegan said on WJCT’s First Coast Connect Tuesday.

Deegan said this will be the last office for which she will run, and that ahead of the campaign, she is going to spend a lot of time with the “grassroots.”

Expect the personal connection to be central to Deegan’s pitch.

Deegan was a fixture on Jacksonville television news before making moves toward the political sphere in 2018, speaking on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. In 2020, she ran for Congress, losing to Rep. John Rutherford in a district not designed for Democrats to win.

“That was a heavily gerrymandered district,” Deegan said on WJCT, responding to a Republican critique of her “failed” Congressional campaign.

This campaign would seem to be more hospitable, though Deegan faces structural challenges.

Her state-level Donna for Duval political committee has struggled to fundraise, at least by Republican opponents’ standards. Through three months, the committee has brought in a little more than $177,000.

When asked about fundraising, Deegan said it was “disconcerting” how much “crazy, crazy money” gets raised and spent on campaigns.

“I expect the huge majority of our fundraising to look different … it may take longer,” Deegan said on WJCT.

October fundraising numbers are due by midnight Tuesday, but the timing of the launch would seem designed to distract from whatever the ultimate fundraising total is.

To put Deegan’s fundraising in perspective, it is on par with just one of the major Republicans in the race. Jacksonville City Council member Al Ferraro has raised roughly $167,000 between his campaign account and his Keep It Real Jax political committee. And Ferraro is by far the weakest fundraiser of a group that has already proven to have donor appeal.

Jacksonville City Council member Matt Carlucci had raised roughly $1 million through September between his campaign account and his political committee, Next Generation Jax.

Another Republican Council member, LeAnna Cumber, reported a $961,000 debut month in September for her JAX First political committee. Cumber is not an official candidate, but is leaning toward a decision early next year.

The leading fundraiser exploring the race is still Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis, who had nearly $2.85 million in his Building a Better Economy political committee. He is also a Republican.

Deegan acknowledged the Davis haul, telling WJCT listeners that she hadn’t been raising money since 2014 for the race, a nod to how long Davis has had that political committee.

In addition to the four Republicans in the mix, unaffiliated candidates Omega Allen, Urban League President Richard Danford, and Darcy Richardson are all running, further complicating any attempts to forecast the race.

Deegan has advantages beyond money, including both name recognition and a plurality of Democratic voters in Duval County. A total of 264,862 Democrats were registered at this writing, compared to just 227,189 registered Republicans.

Deegan and the other candidates in the mix have a long time to campaign. Qualifying week runs from Jan. 9 to Jan. 13, 2023.

The First Election, which pits all qualified candidates against each other, is March 21, 2023. Assuming no one in the field gets more than 50% of the vote, the General Election is May 16, 2023.

A.G. Gancarski

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


6 comments

  • Eddie Brown

    November 9, 2021 at 11:04 am

    She can run as many times as she wants but she is still an adulterous woman who was screwing her current husband whom she had an affair with while working at First Coast News. I will never Vote for her and will make sure as many as possible know her history.

    • Frankie M.

      November 9, 2021 at 12:21 pm

      So should we put you down as a maybe?

    • Tammie In Mandarin

      November 10, 2021 at 5:53 pm

      My, aren’t we holier than thou? Get over yourself. BTW, you’re revealing yourself to be a hypocrite because I’m pretty sure you voted for that pussy grabbing, obese moron but on the other hand, you’re happy to make accusations against Donna– a woman you, I’m sure, has never even met.

      I mean, who even uses the word “adulterous” anymore? LOL. Were you there in the bed with the involved parties when this was allegedly going on? If not, then please just shut up.

      Pathetic.

    • sharon tison

      November 13, 2021 at 3:27 pm

      As a woman who had a husband who cheated I agree with this post. reason being that women like that are extremely selfish and only care about themselves and power. VP harris is case in point, she is a do nothing and will always do nothing unless she herself benefits. Tammie in mandarin please check yourself you are ignorant. If you have never had this happen to you it is one of the most horrible things. you as a woman should know better. are you a Karen? sounds that way. have a coke and a smile and shut the fck up

  • Frankie M.

    November 9, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Donna doing to Lenny what Lenny did to Alvin. Only instead of hyping crime numbahs it’s recycling and trash pick up. Plenty of $$ for Jaguars tho. Get yo popcorn ready.

  • Johny Reb

    November 10, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    OOOOPs, there goes Matt Carlucci’s play on the black vote by pandering to take down the Women’s monument. He will have to give up his city council spot, and will not win the Mayor’s race, so he will be done in local politics.

Comments are closed.


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