Democrat Donna Deegan Makes History as First Female Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida

On May 17th, 2023, Democrat Donna Deegan made history by becoming the first female mayor of Jacksonville, Florida.[0] In a hotly contested election, she defeated Republican candidate Daniel Davis by roughly four percentage points.[1] Deegan, a former television news anchor, was well-known in Jacksonville for having started a foundation to help underserved women fighting breast cancer and holding popular events and runs in the city.[2] Amidst a tumultuous time for the Florida Democrats, who lost statewide elections in November and faced legislative setbacks as Governor Ron DeSantis signed a series of conservative bills into law in recent months, her triumph was celebrated.[1]

Deegan’s campaign focused on healthcare, the economy, and infrastructure.[1] Following her victory, she took to Twitter and promised to bring positive transformation to Jacksonville. Her focus will be on fulfilling the unkept infrastructure promises made over the years, promoting an inclusive economy, and enhancing healthcare accessibility. She received some bipartisan support, with GOP council members Matt Carlucci and Randy DeFoor crossing party lines to back her.[3]

The victory was a major upset for the GOP, which increased its dominance in the state during the 2022 midterm elections.[4] Deegan’s win, with 52 percent of the vote, is a stunning upset by Democrats.[3] Prior to Tuesday, Jacksonville was the biggest city in the United States with a Republican mayor and has been a long-standing stronghold for the GOP. Since 2015, there has been no Democrat in power.[3]

Deegan’s victory gives Florida Democrats a psychological boost just months after the November 2022 elections in which DeSantis won his re-election victory by nearly 20 points, and Republicans crushed Democrats across the state.[5] Deegan’s victory sparked a wave of excitement among Democrats throughout Florida on social media.[6]

In her victory speech, Deegan said, “Together, we will bring change for good to Jacksonville by making good on the decades-long broken promises on infrastructure, building an economy that works for everyone and improving access to healthcare. We will break down the wall between City Hall and bring all the people in to create a city that works for everyone.”

Deegan’s victory means Democrats flipped the mayor’s office in Florida’s most populous city, which has historically leaned conservative, resulting in a major victory for the party.[1] Since the 1990s, she will be the second Democrat to occupy the position.[1]

Prior to the election, Jacksonville was the most populous city in the United States to have a Republican mayor. Fort Worth, Texas will now hold that distinction.[1] Deegan received support from Republicans, including those who don’t necessarily agree with her political views.[7] Conservative Council member Randy DeFoor endorsed her, as did former mayoral candidate Anna Brosche and moderate conscience of the City Council Matt Carlucci, as well as former Council President Scott Wilson.[7]

Deegan’s victory is not only a win for the Democratic Party, but also for women in politics.[8] As the first female mayor of Jacksonville, she has broken a long-standing barrier and paved the way for more women to take on leadership roles in government. Her victory sends a message that women are just as capable as men in leading their communities and making a positive impact.

0. “Donna Deegan supporters celebrate her victory” WTLV-WJXX, 17 May. 2023,

1. “Donna Deegan’s Jacksonville Victory Gives Florida Democrats Morale Boost” Newsweek, 17 May. 2023,

2. “Jacksonville Elects First Woman Mayor, Flips Republican Seat Blue” PEOPLE, 17 May. 2023,

3. “Florida Dems Shock GOP With Jacksonville Mayor Win” The Daily Beast, 17 May. 2023,

4. “How Donna Deegan helped Democrats pull off a big upset in Jacksonville, Florida”, 17 May. 2023,

5. “Democratic Mayoral Win in Jacksonville Is a Huge Middle Finger to Ron DeSantis” The New Republic, 16 May. 2023,

6. “Dems beat DeSantis-endorsed candidate in Florida’s biggest city” POLITICO, 17 May. 2023,

7. “OPINION | ‘Love over fear’: An epilogue for the 2023 election” Jacksonville Today, 17 May. 2023,

8. “Donna Deegan tops Daniel Davis for Jacksonville mayor” WJCT NEWS, 17 May. 2023,

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