Jacksonville mayoral candidate LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber is introducing herself to Duval County voters, stressing personal narrative and political accomplishments in a new double-sided mailer that hits mailboxes as another Republican enters the race.
The mailpiece, sent out by the supportive JAX First political committee, positions the Republican City Council member as a “product of the American Dream,” explaining how her life before politics has driven her priorities in the political arena.
From the candidate’s origins as the “daughter of a Cuban exile” to her work as a bilingual education teacher in Duval County public schools and her advocacy for survivors of domestic violence, the mail piece offers autobiography that wasn’t delivered in 2019, when a sizable campaign account warned off potential challengers to her bid for City Council from Jacksonville’s Southside and she ran unopposed.
The mail piece offers more than introduction, of course. Political platform points also have pride of place.
Cumber stresses her opposition to the expansion of the city’s gas tax, which was made clear when the issue was debated months back, again pillorying the money spent on Skyway revamps as the “Skyway to nowhere.”
Even though the GOP has controlled the Mayor’s Office for all but four years in the last three decades, Cumber’s mailer contends the city is still inhospitable to business, with “bad regulations and bureaucratic red tape” hampering commerce. These concerns may be familiar to those with long-term memories; then-candidate Lenny Curry offered similar denunciations last decade.
Charter schools, once controversial, have been firmly ensconced in Florida’s educational landscape. Cumber backs them, vowing to “increase accountability and responsibility in education” and to “expand school choice options for parents.”
She also pledges to “invest in law enforcement,” which is not a heavy lift on the supermajority Republican Jacksonville City Council.
Cumber has nearly $2.3 million on hand in her JAX First political committee. She also has more than a quarter million dollars on hand in her campaign account, which makes her far and away the strongest fundraiser, except for Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis.
The formal launch of the Davis campaign came Thursday, after months of strong fundraising to his Building a Better Economy political committee. The account has more than $4 million cash on hand, a serious war chest that will likely be used in part to counter Cumber’s strong fundraising thus far.
The money is largely lining up with Republicans thus far. Democrat Donna Deegan, a former broadcast journalist, is the leading Democratic fundraiser. She has nearly $210,000 in her campaign account and more than $300,000 on hand in her Donna for Duval political committee.
The only certainty in the early going of this race, which will heat up for real after November, is that it will likely go to a runoff next year. The First Election is in March, and the top two finishers regardless of party will move on to a May runoff. There is no partisan Primary in Jacksonville municipal elections, which means all candidates are on the same ballot.