Mayoral field gets more crowded, likely much more expensive

·3 min read

The field is getting crowded in the Jacksonville mayoral race, with JAX Chamber CEO Daniel Davis jumping in.

Davis joins with more cash on hand than any other candidate in the running, but none of the other top contenders seem all that deterred by Davis’ $4 million war chest.

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In order to break through, they’ll need a winning message and a close connection to voters.

Republican Councilmember LeAnna Cumber (R-District 5) has raised the second-most of all the candidates, with about $2.5 million currently in the bank.

She sent out her first campaign mailers highlighting her background and policy goals Friday.

When we asked Cumber how Davis joining the race impacts her campaign, she painted Davis as “more of the same.”

“He is the president of the ‘more of the same’ club and if you’re happy with the taxes, the city has raised taxes now four times in the past seven years, and he has supported every single one of those taxes,” said Cumber.

The other top Republican candidate, Councilmember Al Ferraro (R-District 2), has about $250,000 at his disposal.

Ferraro also jabbed at Davis’ support for recent tax hikes.

“I have fought to protect taxpayers from property tax hikes, sales tax increases, and a corrupt attempt to rip off Jacksonville taxpayers through the proposed sale of JEA, I believe it’s time taxpayers have the opportunity to ask him why he supported these policies that clearly hurt Jacksonville families,” said Ferraro in an emailed statement.

Read: Who are the candidates running for Jacksonville sheriff?

Davis’ campaign made an initial pitch to voters in an emailed statement Thursday.

“I’ll take on the tough challenges and seize our biggest opportunities because the hardworking people of Jacksonville deserve the same chance I had to succeed in this great city,” said Davis.

On the Democratic side, Donna Deegan leads in fundraising with about half a million dollars in her campaign accounts.

She said she’s banking on name recognition and her grassroots-style campaign.

“I think I have that going for me and a strong relationship with the community. So, I’m just going to continue to be in every neighborhood in Jacksonville and knock on every door that I can and be present,” said Deegan.

State Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) is also in the running and has about $120,000 in her campaign coffers.

Gibson hopes her years of legislative experience will earn her the support of voters.

“I know what the impact of policy is. I know that there’s still neighborhoods that are left behind and I know that we need a better-prioritized budget,” said Gibson.

The other four candidates, Omega Allen, Frankie Keasler Jr, Darcy Richardson and Theresa Richardson, have roughly $2,000 in the bank combined.

Only time will tell if Davis’ fundraising lead holds through to the election in March, but University of North Florida political science professor Dr. Michael Binder said there’s no doubt this race will get a lot more expensive.

“This race is going to be extraordinarily expensive. We are going to be exceedingly exhausted from the commercials and the stuff that winds up in our mailboxes, but these candidates have money and by March, we’ll know who they are. At least we’ll know who they want to portray themselves to be and what their opponents think of them,” said Binder.

Unless one candidate secures more than 50% of the vote, which is unlikely in such a crowded field, the top two candidates will go head-to-head in a May runoff election.

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