Jacksonville Elects First Woman Mayor, Flips Long-Held Republican Seat Blue

Democrat Donna Deegan was elected to helm the nation's 12th largest city just six months after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection in the county by a wide margin

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union/USA TODAY NETWORK Donna Deegan
Bob Self/Florida Times-Union/USA TODAY NETWORK Donna Deegan

Jacksonville, Florida, elected its first female mayor on Tuesday, flipping the seat blue in a major upset for Republicans — one that some warn is a rebuke of the state's far-right governor, Ron DeSantis.

Former television news anchor Donna Deegan beat Republican Daniel Davis with a slim but still noteworthy margin — particularly considering Davis out-raised the Democrat nearly four to one.

The Democrat's election came just six months after Duval County voted overwhelmingly to reelect Gov. DeSantis, who won the county with an 11% lead over his Democratic opponent.

Deegan has significant name recognition in the region, where she worked in local television for decades and spearheads an eponymous foundation devoted to fundraising for breast cancer research (a passion project that began after her own breast cancer diagnosis).

In her victory speech Tuesday, the Democrat acknowledged the history-making election, saying, "Everyone said it could not be done in Jacksonville, Florida. We did it because we brought the people inside."

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Deegan's opponent was endorsed by DeSantis, who secured a landslide victory in Florida in November.

Duval County's swing from electing a Republican (DeSantis) to a Democrat (Deegan) in such a short span has led some to speculate that the governor's popularity could be dwindling.

As Washington Post analyst Philip Bump notes, the Democratic victory may also signal "a long-term national trend away from Republicans in urban areas."

Prior to the election, Jacksonville — the country's 12th most populous city — was the largest in the country to have a Republican mayor. Now, it joins other big cities which have flipped blue in recent years.

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Notably, the upset comes just weeks before DeSantis is widely anticipated to announce a bid for the presidency — and as he has seen his popularity among Republicans waning in some recent polls.

He's also been criticized by members of his own party for moving too far to the right when it comes to things like book bans, his stance on abortion, and his ongoing feud with Disney.

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Following Deegan's win in Jacksonville, former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to slam DeSantis, claiming that his endorsement of Republican Davis wasn't enough to secure victory for Republicans.

"Wow! In a big upset, the DeSanctimonious backed Republican candidate for Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, LOST," Trump wrote. "This is a shocker. If they would have asked me to Endorse, he would have won, easily. Too proud to do so. Fools! This is a BIG LOSS for the Republican Party. Remember, 'Rob' only won because of me!!!"

In a follow-up post, Trump wrote, "Ron's magic is GONE! He also lost, shockingly, in Jacksonville last night."

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