Jacksonville mayoral candidate Donna Deegan speaks during introductions Thursday, April 20, 2023 at UNF’s Fine Art Center, Lazzara Performance Hall, in Jacksonville, Fla. Democratic candidate Donna Deegan and Republican candidate Daniel Davis faced off in their first head-to-head televised debate as they vie for the job of mayor for the city of Jacksonville.

After being soundly defeated in the 2022 midterm elections and written off by the national party, Florida Democrats received a tremendous jolt of adrenaline Tuesday night when Democrat Donna Deegan won the contest for mayor of Jacksonville.

Against Republican Daniel Davis, who is the chairman of the city’s Chamber of Commerce and had a large money edge, Deegan entered election day as the definite underdog. Despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ endorsement, it wasn’t a strong one. Neither did DeSantis participate in Davis’ gatherings nor support his political campaign.

Deegan, who was running to succeed Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, held a 52% to 48% lead against Davis with all 186 of the city’s precincts reporting.Curry, whose contract had expired

According to a video of Deegan’s victory speech, “everyone said it couldn’t be done in Jacksonville, Florida.” “We took the people inside, so that’s why we did it.”

Tuesday night, the official Twitter account for the city of Jacksonville tweeted congratulations to Deegan and said, “We look forward to your leadership and vision as you help guide our City into the future.”

In his concession address, Davis urged everyone to “come together now and move our city forward,” according to the website Florida Politics.

An established name in the city, Deegan was a former TV anchor. She founded a nonprofit organisation that specialises on breast cancer research after leaving television. She will be the first female mayor of the city.

The victory in Jacksonville, the largest city in the nation with a Republican mayor, gives Florida Democrats a big confidence boost after a string of heartbreaking defeats in recent years. They were most recently crushed across the board in the 2022 midterm election cycle, which DeSantis won by roughly 20 percentage points. By 12 percentage points, he also won Duval County, which is primarily made up of Jacksonville.

“Just when people thought they had Jacksonville figured out, the voters have confounded expectations,” said Chris Hand, a government law attorney who served as chief of staff to former Democratic Mayor of Jacksonville Alvin Brown. “Donna Deegan’s victory is significant not simply for who she isShe won by conducting a good campaign and assembling a combination of Democrats, No Party Affiliation Voters, and even some Republicans, which contributed to her success.

Duval County’s political trajectory has been a roller coaster in recent election cycles.

It was won by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in 2018, but he lost to DeSantis as Republican voters shifted from the city to commuter counties with a strong Republican tilt. Two years later, Joe Biden became the first Democratic contender for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to take the state.

But in the last election, DeSantis and the Republicans won the county as well as the rest of the state. Due to its politics’ tendency to swing, Duval was selected as one of seven bellwether counties for the “County to County” initiative by NBC News.

Democrats’ early-cycle triumph is undoubtedly a major beginning to the 2024 election season, but the party will continue to confront tactical challenges as it attempts to reclaim its footing.in a state where painful defeats have characterised recent political history. Most significantly, there are currently over 400,000 more Republican registered voters in the state than there are Democrats.

However, the victory is a huge boost for Nikki Fried, the new state Democratic chair, who was elected to the position in February and given the challenging task of reviving the party in what was once thought to be the biggest swing state in the nation.

It’s past time for Jacksonville to be led by leaders with new, fresh ideas and a strategy for the city, according to Fried. “For too long, Jacksonville has been led by Republicans who are hellbent on taking away our rights,” he added.

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