A “save the date” message sent from the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce suggests that the long-awaited entry of its CEO into the 2023 campaign could be imminent.
Multiple sources confirm that CEO Daniel Davis will enter the race in early September, with a Save the Date message from the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce confirming a launch for the candidate on Sept. 8 at Tom Nehl Trucking on Jacksonville’s Westside.
“Jacksonville grown. Ready to lead,” reads the slogan. The color scheme for the campaign is red, white and blue, and the launch image appears to be a red sun over white water.
The formal launch of the Davis campaign comes after months of strong fundraising to his Building a Better Economy political committee. The account has more than $4 million cash on hand, a serious war chest. He would be the leading fundraiser in the field instantly, though another active Republican is close.
Jacksonville City Council member Leanna Gutierrez Cumber has nearly $2.3 million on hand in her Jax First political committee. She also has more than a quarter million dollars on hand in her campaign account, which makes her far and away the strongest fundraiser in the current field.
Democrat Donna Deegan, a former broadcast journalist, is the leading Democratic fundraiser. She has nearly $210,000 in her campaign account and more than $300,000 on hand in her Donna for Duval political committee.
The only certainty in the early going of this race, which will heat up for real after November, is that it will likely go to a runoff next year.
New polling of the 2023 Jacksonville mayoral race reveals that no candidate is closing in on the majority support needed in March to avoid a May runoff. Deegan is ahead in the poll by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida.
Her 32% support was a strong first, in a field with two filed Democrats, three officially filed Republicans and a fourth Republican waiting in the wings, as well as numerous no-party candidates.
As a measure of the flux in the field, undecided voters were the second biggest bloc, with 20% unsure who they supported. And the next-best performing name was Davis, with 11% support. He led with Republicans, taking a 25% vote share despite two GOP City Council members already in the field.
Democratic state Sen. Audrey Gibson drew 10% support, good for second place among Democrats.
Republican City Council members Al Ferraro and LeAnna Cumber drew 8% support and 7% support, respectively. No other candidate drew over 2% support.