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Donna Deegan Forms PAC, Says She's ‘Strongly Considering’ Jacksonville Mayoral Run

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BOB SELF / THE FLORIDA TIMES-UNION
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Donna Deegan takes the stage to campaign for Andrew Gillum on Oct. 22, 2018, at a Jacksonville rally.

Speculation is increasing that Democrat Donna Deegan will enter Jacksonville’s 2023 mayoral race following her formation of a political action committee (PAC) called Donna For Duval.

When reached by WJCT News partner News4Jax on Wednesday, Deegan said, “I’ve been encouraged to run for mayor and am strongly considering it.”

Earlier, Deegan said on WJCT News' First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross that she isn’t ruling out another run for public office after losing a congressional bid to Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL4) in November of 2020. 

“I'm very motivated to make sure that those issues - not only that I feel passionately about - but that people in this area feel passionately about, are addressed,” Deegan told Ross in February. 

Deegan is well known in Jacksonville as a former First Coast News anchor and the founder of the DONNA Marathon that benefits The Donna Foundation, which seeks to “finish breast cancer.” She is a breast cancer survivor. 

The last Democrat to win the mayor’s seat was Alvin Brown, who served one term from 2011-2015 before being defeated by incumbent Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, who is term limited. Republican John Peyton served two terms as mayor before Brown, and Republican Mayor John Delaney served two-terms before Peyton.

If Deegan does enter the race she will face a formidable Republican field. At-Large Group 4 City Councilman Matt Carlucci and fellow Republican District 2 City Councilman Al Ferraro have already announced their candidacies.

There is also widespread speculation that JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis will run for mayor because his PAC has raised more than $2 million this year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Florida Department of State Division of Elections.

From a campaign war chest standpoint, Davis appears to have the early momentum should he decide to run. Carlucci has raised over $543,000, according to his PAC’s campaign finance activity reports, while Ferraro has raised just under $44,000, according to News4Jax. 

Deegan’s PAC filing with the state didn’t list any campaign finance activity at the time of this story's publication.

Upon hearing that Deegan is seriously considering entering the mayoral race, Republican Party of Duval County Chairman Dean Black issued this statement Thursday afternoon:

Like many residents of Jacksonville, I was appalled to see that far-left Democrat Donna Deegan is considering a run for Mayor of our great city. On the heels of her disastrous campaign for Congress, Deegan clearly views the Office of Mayor as a consolation prize.
Jacksonville won't be fooled by a failed politician who would be the most liberal mayoral candidate in our history - One who is completely unqualified to lead the largest city in Florida.

In the heavily Republican Congressional District 4, which includes parts of Nassau, Duval and St. Johns counties, Rutherford won the November election with 61.1% of the vote, compared with Deegan’s 38.9%. District 4 had 310,674 registered Republicans (49%) compared to 176,457 registered Democrats (28%) and 136,284 unaffiliated voters (21%) for the 2020 General Election.  

She performed a bit better in the part of Duval County that Congressional District 4 includes, where 42% of voters chose her, to Rutherford’s 57%, according to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections. The part of Duval County that isn’t included in District 4 belongs to Democratic-leaning Congressional District 5. 

Duval County currently has 272,088 registered Democrats (41%) versus 232,634 Republicans (35%) and 143,426 unaffiliated voters (21%), according to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections. Smaller third-parties make up less than 2% of registered Duval County voters.

Deegan will be appearing on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross on Monday at 9 a.m., when she is expected to discuss her political future along with the next DONNA Marathon.

First Coast Connect airs weekday mornings on WJCT 89.9. It’s also streamed live and is available on demand at WJCT.org and in the WJCT app.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.