Jacksonville mayoral hopeful LeAnna Cumber releases first campaign video, scores instant statewide coverage

Cumber Bold Goals
'Every day, I'm fighting back against the special interests and their corrupt, self-serving agendas.'

Jacksonville mayoral candidate LeAnna Cumber officially launched her campaign earlier this week, and quickly became the first 2023 mayoral candidate to get noticed in POLITICO Florida’s Playbook with her new autobiographical spot titled “Bold Goals.”

The savvy play of a prized Playbook placement is the latest sign, if one was needed, of intense statewide interest in the 2023 race to replace term-limited Lenny Curry.

Cumber had raised more than $2 million through her JAX First political committee, but the link in POLITICO Florida’s Playbook is the latest example of the ambitious reach of the campaign, one that has banked thus far on not just statewide but national connections. Before filing as an official candidate, Cumber had already fundraised for JAX First in Washington, D.C., and in Texas.

The debut spot runs just short of two minutes, and as Gary Fineout noted, the ad “stresses her background as the daughter of a Cuban exile, her job experience and her record while serving on the Jacksonville City Council.” These narrative themes will sound familiar to those who were on hand for her Rick Scott-styled campaign launch in a railroad warehouse in Jacksonville Monday afternoon.

Cumber launched the ad with a picture of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, rooting her personal narrative “as a daughter of an exile” in the story of her father leaving Cuba in 1961 after the socialist revolution. She tied in her own accomplishments as a former public school teacher and running a domestic violence shelter, setting up the ad’s narrative pivot to the central theme around the 45-second mark.

“If we put forward bold goals, we can achieve great things together,” Cumber said. She cited a law she championed targeted strip club dancers under the age of 21 to “crack down on sex trafficking,” which has already been knocked down in the court. And she also cited her unsuccessful attempt to repeal a local infrastructure gas tax increase.

“Every day, I’m fighting back against the special interests and their corrupt, self-serving agendas,” Cumber asserted, before launching into her plan, which includes spending tax dollars “wisely” and making Jacksonville “a better place to create jobs.”

Cumber, who began the campaign Monday by promising to make Jacksonville the best “Southern city,” continues to offer some details as she enters what is already an crowded and expensive race for Mayor.

The leading fundraiser is not an official candidate yet, but a political committee associated with Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis.

The Building a Better Economy PC raised another $150,000 last month, with the influential Mori Hosseini stroking a check that helped get the committee over $3.6 million cash on hand. Expect current Mayor Curry to back Davis, who has already appeared on stage at a local press conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis in recent months.

Officially, the leading fundraiser is still Democrat Donna Deegan, who has raised more than $136,000 in hard money, and roughly $265,000 on hand in her Donna for Duval political committee.

Other official candidates are far behind. Republican Al Ferraro, a current City Council member, raised $880 in hard money in February, giving him roughly $5,100 on hand. He has another $117,000 in the Keep It Real Jax political committee, which has not secured a donation since last September.

NPA candidates aren’t doing any better. Perennial candidate Omega Allen has raised a little more than $6,000, with $400 of that coming in February. And perpetual candidate Darcy Richardson hasn’t shown any financial activity.

Polling has shown both growth and room to grow for Cumber. The most recent University of North Florida poll had her with 9% support, behind Deegan at 41% and Davis at 20%, but above Ferraro at 7%. However, that was up from 3% for her in a previous poll from the same outlet.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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