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Deegan and Davis will face off for Jacksonville mayor

Published on March 21, 2023 at 8:56 pm

Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican Daniel Davis are headed to an election runoff to become Jacksonville’s next mayor.

Deegan captured 39% of the vote in the election Tuesday, according to unofficial results. Davis finished with 25%. Republican Al Ferraro ran third with 16% of the vote. Trailing were Omega Allen, no party affiliation (1%), Republican LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber (8%), Democrat Audrey Gibson (9%) and Republican Frank Keasler (2%).

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The campaign for the May 16 election will match Deegan, a veteran broadcast journalist, against the CEO of the JAX Chamber. She is widely known for her work with the DONNA Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to breast cancer education. He brings strong ties to the business and political communities and operated with far more campaign cash.

A University of North Florida poll in February foreshadowed the Deegan-Davis runoff. It found her with 37% of the vote compared with 20% for Davis, but with a large number of voters undecided.

If one of the candidates had collected more than 50% of the vote, that person would have been elected mayor. Instead, the two top finishers advance to the general election.

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Deegan has highlighted her family’s ties to Jacksonville going back generations. During a debate this month, she stressed that Jacksonville needs to repair crumbling infrastructure, address resilience issues and bring more small businesses Downtown.

Davis, during the same debate, said Downtown and riverfront development would be a priority in his administration because he believes it would attract additional talent to Jacksonville.

After Tuesday’s vote, he said: “I’m going to work hard for Jacksonville to make it a safer place. I think Jacksonville deserves a better opportunity for the future, and so I can’t wait for that opportunity.”

The winner in May will replace Mayor Lenny Curry, who could not run because of term limits.

Voter turnout totaled 26% on Tuesday, slightly below the predicted 30%. Deegan overcame a larger turnout among Republicans — 77,873 voters compared with 70,661 Democrats, 17,655 no party affiliation and 1,828 other parties.

Democrats held an edge in mail and early in-person voting — about 44,000 compared with almost 39,000 Republicans. Republicans turned out heavier on Election Day — about 39,000 compared with almost 27,000.

Despite that, the Democrat Deegan prevailed with Election Day voters. She tallied about 25,000 votes on Election Day compared with about 19,000 for Davis, unofficial results showed. Her lead with early and mail voters was greater.

Both parties claimed victory across the ballot in statements Tuesday night.

“This was a great night for Democrats in Jacksonville. We showed up in strong numbers at the polls and are looking forward to showing up even stronger in the May runoff election,” said Duval Dems Chair Daniel Henry. “Voters spoke loudly that they are tired of the negative campaigning in our elections and are ready for change.”

Duval GOP Chairman Dean Black issued a statement saying: “Tonight the voters of Jacksonville have spoken yet again! For now multiple elections in a row, Republicans have secured key victories up and down the ballot.”

Black characterized Davis as “a limited government conservative” and attacked Deegan as “an avowed Biden/Gillum liberal.”

“Jacksonville needs a real mayor — not a media activist like Deegan who pretends to be one on TV,” his statement said.


author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. 

author image Senior News Director, WJCT Public Media

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 35 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.