Jacksonville’s most hotly contested local race in recent memory is set to be decided today. The municipal runoff for mayor will settle the razor-thin race between Democrat and former news anchor Donna Deegan and Republican and JAX Chamber CEO Daniel Davis.
The election’s results could either mean the further entrenching of Republican power in Duval, or the emergence of hope for Democrats who have made strides in the top-of-the-ticket races locally over the past election cycles. Polling has Deegan with a slim lead, by about a point, but she is working against a candidate with the backing of most of the major institutions in Duval.
Davis has the backing of the Chamber, Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters, and the local Republican Party that holds a majority on the city council. He also has the benefit of a voting base that is more likely to show out during a May runoff election. But Deegan has years of positive name ID built up from years as an anchor on First Coast Connect, and has received some out-of-town help from new Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried.
Democrats statewide likely would view her victory as an important step in combating the red wave that overtook Florida in 2022. The stakes are high. As the Florida Times-Union recently put it, “The job of mayor always involves dealing with the unexpected, whether it might be a storm that slams the city or a recession that crashes the budget or a global pandemic that turns everyday life upside down.”
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