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Democrat Donna Deegan wins Jacksonville mayor's race in major upset

A Democratic upset win in Florida's most populous city on Tuesday night marks the first positive sign for the state party, who got trounced by Republicans in the state in the 2022 midterm elections

In Jacksonville's mayoral race, Democratic candidate and former TV anchor Donna Deegan beat Republican businessman Daniel Davis, who was endorsed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by roughly 5 points.

Deegan will be the first female mayor in Jacksonville history, and will be the first Democrat to hold the post since 2015. While Democrats have a slight voter registration advantage in Duval County, three of the last four mayors have been Republicans.

While the GOP saw a high turnout with 98,651 votes cast, independent voters tipped the scale for Deegan to give her the victory. 

 "When we were out the last several weeks, I mean, 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,'" Deegan said in her victory speech.

While DeSantis endorsed Davis in late March, he did not physically go campaign for him. But Davis' loss makes it two DeSantis-endorsed candidates who lost Tuesday, with the other one being Kelly Craft in Kentucky's Republican gubernatorial primary. 

Former President Donald Trump, who could be DeSantis' primary opponent should he choose to run for president, used Davis' loss to criticize DeSantis on Wednesday morning.

"Wow! In a big upset, the DeSanctimonious backed Republican candidate for Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, LOST. 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!!!" Trump posted

The Florida Democratic Party highlighted Deegan's win in a memo sent Wednesday, listing increased party attention and investment, including a $100,000 grant from the Democratic National Committee.

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