NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, May 18th, 2023

Democrats win spring mayoral contests in Jacksonsville, Florida and Colorado Springs

Jack­sonville, Florida’s largest city, was the only one of America’s ten most pop­u­lous munic­i­pal­i­ties to have a Repub­li­can mayor.

Until Tues­day.

Demo­c­rat Don­na Dee­gan beat Repub­li­can Daniel Davis, who heads the Jack­sonville Chsm­ber of Com­merce, although Davis heav­i­ly out­spent her and was run­ning with an endorse­ment from mil­i­tant right wing Gov­er­nor Ron DeSantis.

“This is a big loss for the Repub­li­can Par­ty,” Don­ald Trump crowed in a “Truth Social” post, tak­ing aim at DeSan­tis, who he has been call­ing “DeSanc­ti­mo­nious.”

Trump called Deegan’s vic­to­ry “shock­ing” in that Repub­li­cans have run the city most of the time for three decades. But May may­oral elec­tions deliv­ered a greater shock­er. Repub­li­cans lost a mayor’s race in Col­orado Springs.

The Col­orado urban cen­ter has a big mil­i­tary pres­ence, sym­bol­ized by the near­by Air Force Acad­e­my. It is home to the head­quar­ters of James Dob­son’s Focus on Fam­i­ly, and is home to a very con­ser­v­a­tive Catholic diocese.

The Repub­li­cans put up Wayne Williams, a for­mer Col­orado Sec­re­tary of State with a 28 year record in El Paso Coun­ty pol­i­tics. He lost to Yemi Mobo­lade, an Ethiopi­an immi­grant and open­er of two pop­u­lar restau­rants.

Mobo­lade ran as an independent.

Our nation’s cities are becom­ing younger, more diverse and inclu­sive places. They’ve become increas­ing­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic, despite efforts by Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors to make vot­ing more difficult.

The trend is like­ly to be felt in Wash­ing­ton this fall with Lisa Brown’s chal­lenge to Repub­li­can May­or Nadine Wood­ward in Spokane. Brown left her post head­ing the state’s Depart­ment of Com­merce to enter the race.

The new cen­tu­ry has fea­tured two strik­ing trends.

Rur­al areas have swung sharply to the right. The rur­al con­ser­v­a­tive Demo­c­rat, once a fix­ture of Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics, is now as endan­gered as the spot­ted owl.

In the mean­time, cities turned toward pro­gres­sives. Seat­tle was among the first, with Wes Uhlman’s 1969 win ush­er­ing in what has been a suc­ces­sion of Demo­c­ra­t­ic may­ors. The Repub­li­cans have tried to demo­nize the Emer­ald City but fall­en flat — wit­ness all those Tiffany Smi­ley tele­vi­sion ads last fall.

“We are Col­orado Springs: It’s a new day for our beloved city,” said Mobo­lade in claim­ing vic­to­ry. Williams acknowl­edged as much, say­ing vot­ers want­ed “some­thing new” as opposed to some­one with a “tried and true track record.”

Long-suf­fer­ing Flori­da Democ­rats bad­ly need­ed Deegan’s win. She is a for­mer news­cast­er, a can­cer sur­vivor who found­ed a non­prof­it ded­i­cat­ed to fight­ing breast can­cer. The Flori­da Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty present­ly holds no statewide offices (an inverse of the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s sit­u­a­tion here in Wash­ing­ton State), so it is cel­e­brat­ing this odd-year down­bal­lot win as a good omen for the future.

Dee­gan ran on a plat­form of “uni­ty over divi­sion” while oppo­nent Davis mor­phed from a cham­ber-of-com­merce con­ser­v­a­tive a MAGA Repub­li­can in the race.

The urban trend has dis­turbed Repub­li­cans. Their big aim, in the Texas Leg­is­la­ture, is to dimin­ish pow­ers of Har­ris Coun­ty (Hous­ton) by such gam­bits as allow­ing only one drop box for advance vot­ing, and allow­ing state pros­e­cu­tors to usurp local juris­dic­tion and take over crim­i­nal cases.

With the fall of Jack­sonville to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, Fort Worth, Texas, has become the largest Amer­i­can city with a Repub­li­can mayor.

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