Jacksonville icon, investigative journalist, marathon runner, and 3X cancer survivor Donna Deegan has formally announced her candidacy to be the first woman mayor of Jacksonville, FL. This is hugely consequential for a City that has 37K more registered Democrats than Republicans, but has suffered through 8 years of being “governed” by a ruling minority.
Donna is well positioned to win this race, in part because of her biography and name recognition–she anchored the evening news in Jacksonville for 20 years, and went on to create a successful foundation devoted to breast cancer research and providing services for patients and their families. She brings thousands of people (and millions in economic impact) to town every year to run a marathon with her.
The other thing that makes her a viable candidate for Mayor is her 2020 race for Congress. While she lost that race, she gave what was widely viewed as a standout performance in the single debate the incumbent agreed to participate in.
She also performed well in the Blue districts in Duval County (which is co-terminus with Jacksonville) that were in her District. Duval is carved up into two Congressional districts in a way that virtually assures Republican control of CD 4. In 2020, it was considered a +17 R district by The Cook Political Report. Donna helped to swing it left 3 points, to +14 R, more than any other Democrat running in a Red District in the State
As this map shows, CD 5 reaches into CD 4 in what appears to be an unnatural act, and grabs a huge swath of Duval for a district that runs all the way to Tallahassee. The CD 5 part of Duval is often referred to as the “urban core”, and we all know what “urban” is code for.
But in un-gerrymandered races, Duval is consistently Blue, y’all. Duval supported for Andrew Gillum twice, and for Joe Biden twice. This is Jacksonville, Florida, the patriarchy is a hell of a drug, and anything can happen. But we have a fighting chance because Donna ran for Congress “like her hair was on fire” as she liked to say, and she ran hard all the way through the tape. She made herself a force to be reckoned with. It mattered that she ran that race–even the most jaded local pundits consider her competitive.
We need more women to run in races they can win, and in races that will break their hearts. It’s the way we build a bench–a bench of candidates, staff, supporters and voters. You learn as much from a losing race as from a winning race; about yourself, your community, your team. It helps set candidates up for the next race or other leadership opportunities–they rarely return to
This was one of the many lessons from 2020 that led me to found Women United for Florida Families, and I have so enjoyed working with candidates and supporters around the State, but it is time for me to step back to devote my efforts to electing Donna and some City Council members who will support her agenda, which you can see at http://www.DonnaForMayor.com. Fortunately, some friends I made along the way have agreed to step in to manage and hopefully amplify WUFF PAC operations as the field of candidates begins to grow. I plan to stay on as an advisor, and someone who cares deeply about supporting women candidates.