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.

Joel Connelly

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