Democratic unity will not be achieved in the General Election for Jacksonville Mayor.
In an exclusive interview with Florida Politics, former Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson, who was eliminated in the First Election, emphatically stated that she would not endorse Donna Deegan in the runoff election.
Gibson, who spent roughly two decades in Tallahassee, has no plans to endorse Republican Daniel Davis either.
“I’m not endorsing anyone,” she said.
Gibson made it very clear Thursday that the narrative of the mayoral race — which saw Deegan supporters say that she was not a legitimate candidate — was “disgusting” and disrespectful to her career in public service.
“I want to make sure my disgust with this race is out there,” Gibson said. She noted her name and her family name was “denigrated,” as was her “legacy of service,” by persistent “attacks and lies” claiming she was a “Republican plant” in the race to keep Deegan from winning outright Tuesday.
“I’m a public servant … a registered Democrat,” Gibson said. “I’ve worked across the aisle. But I’ve never had to sell my soul.”
Gibson said she was “disgusted” by an “unfathomable” narrative put out that she was “getting money from Tim Baker,” the general consultant on the Davis campaign. She asserted that the lies were perpetuated because she entered the race, ultimately becoming the second Democrat in the field.
She explained her decision to run for Mayor, instead of for Congress, saying it was a decision to “stay home” as she’d been “up and down the road for years.” Her delayed entry into the race was necessary given the succession of Special Sessions held after last year’s regular Legislative Session ended.
“I can run for any office I want,” Gibson noted, describing people as calling her and attempting to “put their fingers on the scale” to pressure her from running.
Gibson noted that Deegan reached out to her after the votes were counted Tuesday, and her response was brief: “Thank you for calling. I hope you get some rest.”
She said that the idea that she would run to get a job in a potential Davis administration was ridiculous, noting the Republican “doesn’t have to give me a job. I don’t need a job. Everything I need, I have.”
Gibson also saw “racial undertones” to calls from Deegan supporters to get out of the race, disrespectful given that she “know(s) how budgets work” considering her decades in government. She also contends opponents were more than willing to take advantage of that experience by ripping off her ideas.
“Everything I said at forums, I heard back from someone else,” Gibson noted.
The former Senator noted Deegan approached her when she launched her campaign.
“She came to me to ask ‘What should I be saying?'” Gibson recounted, leading her to respond, “Don’t you have any ideas of your own?”
From there, Deegan’s campaign “allowed these people to paint me as something else … not qualified or I have to take something from someone to run.”
Deegan had “every opportunity to stop it” but her team “perpetuated it.”
Gibson summed it up as a belief that “she’s the Black woman and she shouldn’t run.”
“I heard it all, saw it all, as if I bring nothing. I bring everything to the office.”
Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried, who endorsed Deegan in 2022, called Gibson yesterday morning to try to get her on board with Deegan’s General Election campaign. It’s unknown what Fried said, however.
“I didn’t listen to her message,” Gibson noted.
Gibson noted she had been “through the fire” in Tallahassee, mentioning highly publicized confrontations with former Sen. Frank Artiles, who used racist and sexist slurs in a heated conversation with her in 2017, and Sen. Ileana Garcia, who confronted Gibson in the Senate for no apparent reason in 2022.
Now that the mayoral campaign is over for her, she’s not especially confident that Deegan’s campaign understands the importance of the Black vote.
“Without African American voters, where would our party be?”
She seeks a Mayor who “cares about the entire community,” and said she didn’t know if Deegan actually did.
“I wish the mayoral candidates well, and that includes Daniel Davis,” Gibson said.
March 23, 2023 at 3:57 pm
I hope this doesn’t cause people to stay home and not vote. That would be awful. And I also hope this decision doesn’t have a negative affect on others who are in run off elections.
Brenden Leslie, The Hobbit from Miami
March 23, 2023 at 4:22 pm
NO ONE ENDORSE DANIEL OR DONNA. WRITE IN JESUS AND PRAY FOR CITY. STATUES COMING DOWN WITH BOTH OF THEM. DAVIS HATES FREEDOM.
NICK HOWLAND = TRAITOR
PANCAKE = FAT
BAKER = SNIIFS GOATS
March 23, 2023 at 6:31 pm
PUT SOME RESPECT ON.MY NAME
Dr. Juan P. Gray
March 23, 2023 at 7:54 pm
Wow what a profound statement from a FLA State Senator. The Duval Dem Party play too many games and favoritism. The Black vote in Jacksonville is absolutely crucial.
March 24, 2023 at 12:54 am
Audrey sounds like a sore loser. And a very bitter and defeated candidate.
She also sounds like someone who indeed is being controlled by the GOP.
Gibson’s ranting makes no sense at all, unless her goal is to weaken Donna Deegan–the strongest, the most qualified, and the most popular Democratic candidate for mayor since Nat Glover in 2003–in order to help Davis win.
March 24, 2023 at 8:59 pm
I agree that Audrey sounds like a sore loser or someone as I suspected with her late entry into the race is in collusion with GOP to weaken Donna. I wonder what she got paid or promised? Who in their right mind wants another GOP mayor for Jacksonville? I have lost all respect for Audrey. I was once her supporter. She is deliberately causing unneeded problems. She is a sell out.
And as a blank woman I can clearly see it.
March 24, 2023 at 1:19 am
Donna Deegan for Mayor!
March 24, 2023 at 8:48 am
Most unfortunate. I would vote for either Ms. Deegan or Senator Gibson. In the coming weeks someone (or more) conciliatory voice(s) needs to intercede. Sheriff Glover?
March 24, 2023 at 11:48 am
Sounds like an ego bruised to me
March 24, 2023 at 2:50 pm
Senator Gibson should be ashamed of herself she know DeSantis and the Republicans are racist in Florida what a slap in the face to the black community I also believe she took a payoff so the votes can be taken away from Donna.
March 27, 2023 at 9:00 pm
Audrey Gibson’s public service record is proven, honorable and distinguished. I understand that she is hurt and insulted but I am hopeful that she will rise above the nay sayers and the hurt to join whoever becomes mayor to share her expertise for the good of our community. After all, the greater good is what is at stake here and we all need her.
March 24, 2023 at 4:17 pm
The Duval Dems are hopelessly divided by race, which is such a shame because black and white Progressives want the same things. Gibson should know that, but instead she obviously prefers to sink Dem chances of making a real change in this city. Perhaps it’s time for Gibson to channel Stacey Abrams and work for the greater good.
March 24, 2023 at 10:54 pm
I would hazard she lost because she thinks a civilian review board should be utterly toothless and without the authority to investigate police, and she had no idea when questioned that LGBTQ people are under attack in the state or what she would do to help. It’s not complicated. She’s simply too far to the right of her own electorate.
March 25, 2023 at 8:25 am
Wow this is really petty. Here we are the democratic party literally going down in flames in this state and she wont endorse a fellow candidate just because of some perceived slight? Just another reason I am glad she is not mayor.
March 26, 2023 at 2:30 am
One party one vote for Donna..
Jax since ‘48
March 25, 2023 at 9:45 am
We know that only Unity will win!
Let’s get together, not spread more hate, negativity, fear, division!
Do the right thing for Jax!!
Donna has loved and worked hard for Jax, women, the common good, all her career!!
March 26, 2023 at 2:31 am
I agree. DONNA ALL THE WAY
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