Just got back from a trip to Pennsylvania and New York. Spent time with some Naval Academy Classmates and my family. Back in Florida just in time for the Duval County unitary election.
Duval County is Jacksonville, Florida. It's a consolidated government. Democrats outnumber Republicans, but due to demographics and decades of gerrymandered districts, Republicans have controlled city government for most of its recent history, going back to the 90s. Alvin Brown, a Black Clinton Democrat had one term in office as mayor, and was defeated by the current incumbent, outgoing Mayor Lenny Curry, presently undergoing his mid-life crisis in public on Twitter.
The fourth letter of the alphabet is doing some heavy lifting tomorrow. It's decision day for Duval County, between Donna Deegan, Democrat, and Daniel Davis, Republican.
Whatever the outcome, one thing is true: Duval deserves what it gets.
By nearly all accounts, the race is very close. Democrats have a history of not showing up in March and May. It will be interesting to see if voter turnout breaks 50%.
Daniel Davis is the CEO of the local chamber of commerce, a job he's held for a decade. He got the board of directors to approve allowing him to keep his job while campaigning, apparently using accrued vacation time.
He's been an elected official in city council and in the Florida legislature as a state representative. He's also been a lobbyist for developers. It's safe to say he's never worked a day in a job that wasn't directly involved with government. Local lore has it that he's wanted to be mayor ever since he was a kid.
Donna Deegan is a retired journalist, a former local TV anchor, and a three-time breast cancer survivor who established the Donna Foundation and the annual Race to Finish Breast Cancer Marathon. This isn't Donna's first effort in politics. She was a surrogate for Andrew Gillum in the 2018 governor's race, which Gillum narrowly lost to our current governor.
In 2020, she ran for the House of Representatives against the incumbent, former Duval County sheriff, John Rutherford. I've written about him before, a liar and a moral coward, Rutherford is a Duval County Republican. She lost that race by a wide margin.
Shaking off the sting of losing, Donna still wanted to serve her community in elected office, someplace where she can help more people through policy initiatives than just the people she helps with her foundation. She announced she was running for mayor in November 2021.
Davis' campaign is managed by one of "the (lost) boys," Timmy Baker, adolescents in adult bodies. Faithless men with a cynical, zero-sum view of politics and government, and the worst thing that has happened to Jacksonville since the fire. Baker is a political consultant who believes in scorched earth, negative campaigns, a modern-day Lee Atwater. (The other two lost boys are Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville's Chief Administrative Office and Bully, Brian (Bri-Bri) Hughes.)
Baker also managed Sheriff T.K. Waters' campaign, as I mentioned in Flexible Ethics. One shocking aspect of this race is that Sheriff Waters has decided to take a flamethrower to his bridge before he crossed it, recording a negative ad about Donna while in uniform and including other JSO deputies in the frame, saying "Donna Deegan's radical policies would make our families and my officers less safe."
Apparently Sheriff Waters is so certain of a Davis victory, that he can destroy any trust or good will that he might have enjoyed if Deegan were elected. Whatever efforts at collaboration Mayor Deegan might undertake with Sheriff Waters will be forever tainted by a cloud of mistrust.
This is so toxic because it serves no one, except Timmy Baker, Daniel Davis and Sheriff Waters, who apparently has political ambitions beyond the sheriff's office. Selfish, small-minded men.
So, tomorrow is D-Day for Duval. Either Davis or Deegan. I'll be watching closely.
Whichever one, it'll be what Duval deserves.
Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 08:28 Monday, 15 May 2023