Jacksonville Mayoral Race Neck-And-Neck, Crime Emerges as Important Issue

Donna Deegan and Daniel Davis
DonnaDeegan/Twitter, DanielDavisFL/Twitter

The runoff mayoral race between Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican Daniel Davis in Jacksonville, Florida, is tightening in light of reminders that the Democrat candidate supported the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, which was largely associated with sheer lawlessness and civil unrest.

Last month, the Republican Party of Florida celebrated a positive turnout in local elections in the Sunshine State’s Duval County, which resulted in the reelection of several GOP Jacksonville City Council members as well as councilman-elect Ken Amaro flipping Jacksonville City Council District 1 red:

The positive turnout followed Florida GOP chairman Christian Ziegler outlining the party’s new strategy of getting more involved in local races across the state:

Despite the positive results for Republicans, the Jacksonville mayoral race remains unsettled as Democrat Donna Deegan is facing off against Republican Daniel Davis. Neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold in the March race.

“‘Defund Donna’ is soft on crime, wants higher taxes and is wholly unprepared to handle the city’s $1.5 billion budget. Jacksonville needs a real Mayor – not a media activist like Deegan who pretends to be one on TV,” the Republican Party of Duval County said at the time.

The runoff is scheduled for May 16, and polls have been tightening in recent days. A recent FrederickPolls report found Deegan leading Davis with 54 percent support to the Republican’s 46 percent support. However, a survey from the University of North Florida (UNF) Public Opinion Research Lab, released Monday, found a single percentage point separating the two candidates.

Per the survey:

Registered Duval County voters who are likely to vote in the May 16 election were asked their vote choices for Jacksonville Mayor, to which 48% said they would vote for Deegan, with 47% supporting Davis, and 5% undecided.

“We’re looking at another razor-thin race that will undoubtedly come down to turnout,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science. “Both candidates will have a chance to address the issues important to voters in Thursday’s debate on UNF’s campus, and it’ll be important for each of them to energize their bases to get to the polls in May.”

The drop-off in the polls reportedly came as an ad circulated reminding voters that Deegan stood as a proponent of the Black Lives Matter movement. The ad shows Deegan, in her own words, stating that she went to “every one of those Black Lives Matter protests.”

WATCH the ad:

Deegan claimed the attack ad was “divisive” and “racially insensitive.”

“If you don’t have a vision, then you use those divisive tactics; the fact is he doesn’t want to talk about issues,” she said, claiming to be “pro-police.”

“All I want to do is make sure the citizens are safe. I’m going to make sure our Jacksonville sheriff’s office, our sheriff, and the men and women in blue have everything they need,” Davis said in response to Deegan’s claims. Although Deegan claims she does not want to defund the police, Davis does not buy it.

“Because she has been listening to everything I’ve been saying, and she’s copying what we’re saying. She can’t speak out of both sides of her mouth,” Davis said.

“I’m very pro-police,” Deegan told News 4 Jax, which pointed out that many other prominent Jacksonville leaders—including Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and current Sheriff T.K. Waters—attended a BLM protest in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“I believe that we need to make sure that we are taking care of our police officers,” Deegan continued. “I also believe we need to take care of our community, and I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive.”

News 4 Jax spoke to Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters about Davis’s ad. The sheriff said it is “important to remember the difference between a peaceful march and the violent protests we witnessed throughout the streets of Jacksonville.”

“These riots pose a serious threat not only to our officers, but also our citizens,” he said, adding, “My decision to support a law and order candidate like Daniel Davis stems from his commitment to giving officers the resources they need to fight crime, not defunding them.”


This debate hits particularly close to home this week, as an officer was shot outside Baptist Medical Center South Tuesday night and remains in critical condition.


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