In a major electoral upset on Tuesday, voters in Jacksonville elected their first female mayor, defeating a Republican backed by business leaders and endorsed by Ron DeSantis, the state governor and prospective presidential candidate.
Jacksonville is the most populous Florida city, with about 950,000 residents. Donna Deegan, a Democrat, earned 52% of the vote, beating Daniel Davis. About 217,000 people voted, a turnout of 33%.
DeSantis’s hard-right agenda has often made national headlines.
But in Jacksonville, Deegan said: “Love won tonight, and we made history.
“We have a new day in Jacksonville because people chose unity over division – creating a broad coalition of people across the political spectrum that want a unified city.”
Davis conceded defeat.
Deegan told supporters: “I just received a very nice phone call from Daniel Davis who said to me that he is rooting for me and he will work for me to create a city that works for all of us.
“He is ready to work together and I’m ready to work with him and everybody else who loves this city to make this city everything it can be.”
Deegan said she planned to focus on upgrading infrastructure, building an economy for everyone and improving access to healthcare.
She will replace a Republican, Lenny Curry, who was first elected in 2015 and could not run again because of term limits.
Deegan said: “Everyone said it could not be done in Jacksonville, Florida. We did it because we brought the people inside.
“I can’t tell you how many people from across the political spectrum reached out to me and said, ‘We want you to know, I’ve never voted for a Democrat before. I’m going to vote for you.’”
Chris Hand, a Jacksonville Democratic operative, told NBC News: “The voters have confounded expectations.
“Donna Deegan’s win is historic, not just because of who she is but also because of how she won: by running a positive campaign and building a coalition of Democrats, No Party Affiliation Voters and even some Republicans.”