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Donna Deegan announces run for Congress

Deegan to challenge U.S. Rep. John Rutherford in 2020

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former television news anchor and breast cancer awareness advocate Donna Deegan announced Thursday her campaign to challenge Republican incumbent John Rutherford in Florida's 4th Congressional District.

The former First Coast News anchor and three-time cancer survivor made her announcement as a Democratic challenger in front of more than 100 people in Riverside.

Deegan said she is running for her kids, meaning the future. She told News4Jax one of her main goals is to rebuild trust in the government.

"I think what I tried to get across today, and what I think is so important, is we have become very used to a political climate where everyone is buried in their bunkers and they aren't listening anymore. So the most important thing to me is go out and talk to as many people as I can, but listen to as many people as I can and hear what their thoughts are and about the things that are important to them in this community and what they think needs to be done in Washington," Deegan said.

Deegan said she will focus on issues like health care, the environment and background checks on guns sales.

Deegan told Florida Politics she had been "encouraged to run" for the seat that covers Nassau, St. Johns and a big chunk of Duval County.

Deegan is a Jacksonville native and graduated from Bishop Kenny High School. She was an anchor for more than 20 years before retiring in 2016 to focus on her nonprofit.

In 2008, Deegan created 26.2 with DONNA, The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, dedicated to breast cancer research and care. The race is a signature event of The DONNA Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance and support to families living with breast cancer and funds ground breaking breast cancer research, according to her website.

Rutherford, a former three-term Jacksonville sheriff, was first elected in 2016. In 2018, he defeated Democratic challenger Ges Selmont by a wide margin.

"The Congressman has no comment on any one of the number of candidates that have filed to run in the 4th District," Tim Baker, a member of Rutherford's campaign team. "He looks forward to running a vigorous re-election campaign focused on his record of results for the citizens of Northeast Florida."

Deegan said she knows she's running as a Democrat in a historically Republican district, but added she's not worried about that one bit. Deegan said she's already getting support from Democrats, Republicans and independent voters.

So far, two other candidates — Christopher Eagle and Monica DePaul — have filed to run against Deegan in the Democratic primary next August.

Deegan started to dip her toe into the political realm when she was an outspoken supporter of Democrat Andrew Gillum during and after his failed bid for Florida governor.