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Councilman Matt Carlucci drops out of Jacksonville mayoral race

Brendan Rivers

Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci, a Republican, announced Thursday that he’s dropping out of the 2023 race for mayor.

“Be assured that this change in direction was not made lightly," Carlucci said in a text message to WJCT News.

He said he will run to keep his At-large Group 4 council seat instead.

"Exerting influence from where I stand now will prove a most effective strategy for advancing these important issues," Carlucci wrote.

Carlucci also sent a message to donors Thursday offering to return financial donations to his mayoral race. He had received more than $285,000 in campaign donations, according to finance records.

"Every effort will be made to redirect your dollars according to your wishes," Carlucci wrote. "Should you wish to have those funds retained for my reelection, it would be sincerely appreciated."

The race could remain crowded on the Republican side, as likely candidates started to outpace Carlucci in fundraising in recent months.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis and council Republican LeAnna Cumber have both signaled they'll likely join the race, raising $3.4 million and $1.3 million for their respective political action committees.

Republican City Council member Al Ferraro has filed as a candidate but is dragging in fundraising. Only one Democrat, former newscaster Donna Deegan, has filed to run so far.

More candidates could still emerge in the crowded field to replace Mayor Lenny Curry, as there is more than a year to go before the real campaigning begins. Candidates must qualify by Jan. 13, 2023.

The first Jacksonville mayoral election, which pits all qualified candidates against each other, is March 21, 2023. If no one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the general election is May 16, 2023.

WJCT's Sydney Boles contributed to this report.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.