LeAnna Cumber stretches cash lead among filed Jacksonville mayoral candidates

Cumber Bold Goals
Daniel Davis looms, but Cumber stands her ground in crowded GOP lane.

Among the candidates who have opened campaign accounts for the 2023 Jacksonville mayoral race, Republican LeAnna Cumber holds a substantial fundraising lead.

Cumber expanded that edge over the other formally filed candidates in May. Between her campaign account and her JAX First political committee, the first-term City Council member raised over $135,000 last month and has north of $2.3 million on hand.

The leading Cumber donor exemplified the impressive national network enjoyed by the candidate and husband, Husein Cumber, with billionaire venture capitalist Riaz Valani donating $25,000 to the political committee.

Meanwhile, the Morgan and Morgan law firm contributed more than $18,000 in in-kind contributions related to fundraising events. Maloof Enterprises of Miami, another deep-pocketed entity, gave the campaign a maximum of $1,000.

City Council member Randy DeFoor and former Jacksonville Journey head W.C. Gentry donated $1,000 to the campaign account.

Cumber has a substantial advantage over both Republicans with active campaigns.

Republican Al Ferraro appears to have found traction after a failed push on the Jacksonville City Council for a confederate monument referendum. His May fundraising included nearly $14,000 in additional money to his campaign account, giving him roughly $71,000 in hard cash.

Ferraro also has roughly $175,000 in his political committee, Keep It Real Jax, which includes more than $27,000 in May money. Over half that sum ($14,000) comes from the tow truck sector.

A third GOP candidate, Frankie Keasler Jr., christened his campaign account in April with a $250 personal loan, the only activity so far.

The leading Democratic fundraiser is former newscaster Donna Deegan. Deegan closed May with more than $400,000 on hand between her campaign account and her political committee, Donna for Duval. She could still have more money: the May campaign account tally was unavailable (at this writing) from the Duval County Supervisor of Elections website.

The $22,600 Deegan raised to her political committee was that account’s best haul since January, buoyed by John Allen and Tri-Can contributions, each of which gave $10,000.

Regardless of Deegan’s final hard money total, the campaign got more complicated last week, as state Sen. Audrey Gibson, the second Democrat in the field, entered the race Monday. Gibson had told many people she intended to run and followed through at last.

The field contains a pair of familiar independents.

Independent candidate Omega Allen had at the end of April roughly $3,000 on hand. She has run before on shoestring budgets, finishing third place in a four-candidate field in 2019 with more than 10% of the vote.

Meanwhile, a second independent candidate, Darcy Richardson, held $17.76 on hand.

Qualifying for the Jacksonville mayoral race runs from Jan. 9 to Jan. 13, 2023. All qualified candidates will be on the ballot for the March election. If no candidate gets a majority in what Duval calls the First Election, the top two finishers advance to the General Election in May.

Expect that the field could still grow: The political committee of Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Chair Daniel Davis raised another $120,000 in May.

Building a Better Economy now has nearly $4 million on hand, with a fifth straight six-figure haul last month indicating that his momentum hasn’t slowed.

JWB Real Estate Capital paced all donors with a $25,000 contribution on a report dominated by money from that sector and other local business interests.

Davis, a Republican, is coy about his timetable to enter this race, but he seems to be running a solid and extended pre-candidacy.

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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