Written by Nate Schwartz

Jacksonville’s mayoral general election is the country’s next large mayoral election in 2023. As today is election day, candidates are vying to either win a majority of the vote, or advance to a general runoff election if no candidate receives more than 50%.

A recent poll by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab shows that Democrat Donna Deegan has a big lead going into election day, but 22% of voters in the poll were undecided. The current Jacksonville mayor, Lenny Curry (R), is ineligible for re-election due to term limits. 

So far, six candidates have placed ads: four Republicans and two Democrats. The overall election has seen $8.7M. Two Republican candidates, Daniel Davis and LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber, have been the beneficiary of 91% of that total. 

A donut chart showing Jacksonville’s mayoral spending

Gutierrez Cumber and Davis each have major backing from issue groups. Jax First, a group supporting Gutierrez Cumber, has poured in $2.5M on broadcast, cable, digital, and radio ads. Recently, their ads attacked Daniel Davis for being “dangerously liberal” on crime. Meanwhile, Building a Better Economy PC, which is supporting Davis, has placed $4.0M on broadcast, cable, and digital. They are highlighting Davis’s economic capabilities and how he was appointed to his current position by FL Governor Ron DeSantis. These two issue groups make up 74% of total election spending.

Two other issue groups have spent in the election: Keeping It Real Jax and A Rising Tide. Keeping It Real Jax has spent $292K supporting Republican Al Ferraro, who has only spent $45K on ads himself. A Rising Tide is the lone Democratic issue group in the election. They have spent $94K supporting Audrey Gibson.

Four candidates have purchased ads in the Jacksonville’s mayoral general election.

Gutierrez Cumber and Davis lead the way, spending $869K and $577K, respectively. Fifty-four percent of Gutierrez Cumber’s ad expenditure has been on broadcast, where she has drawn contrast against Davis on her stance on crime. This is similar to the ads that Jax First has aired in favor of Gutierrez Cumber. However, Davis and Building a Better Economy PC have aired identical broadcast ads, with a different disclaimer.

Deegan, the lone spending Democratic candidate, has placed $339K. She reserved $179K on broadcast, $95K on digital, and $64K on radio. Her ads do not involve any other candidates or previous policies, but rather focus on her journalist career and her character. In the University of North Florida poll, Gutierrez Cumber trails significantly to both Davis and other candidates: she only got 5% of votes, behind Davis (20%), Ferraro (8%), and Gibson (7%). Deegan led the poll with 37%. 

Interested in checking out another mayoral deep dive? Check out our Chicago mayoral race deep dive blog.

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