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