Florida’s 4th Congressional District

District covers Nassau, most of Duval and all of St. Johns counties

Map of Northeast Florida's congressional districts (Florida Senate)

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Rutherford easily won a Republican primary in August and will now face Democrat Donna Deegan, a former television journalist, now an advocate for breast cancer awareness.

Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican John Rutherford (WJXT)

News4Jax’s 4th Congressional District debate: WATCH | RECAP | TRUST INDEX

Scroll down to read each candidate’s responses to News4Jax’s questionnaire, presented verbatim as submitted.,

Donna Deegan

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 59

Candidate’s family: Tim Deegan, husband. Children Danielle and Drew

Occupation: Candidate

Education: B.S. Communications Florida State University

Political experience:

Covered politics as a journalist for 30 years, holding the powerful accountable, campaigned aggressively in 2018 helping Democrats statewide win their districts

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  1. Healthcare - As a three time cancer survivor who has been working philanthropically with underserved cancer patients for almost 20 years, I see healthcare as our number one priority. Too many people are dying or going bankrupt in our current system. We are now in the middle of a pandemic and millions have lost their jobs and with it their health insurance. We must provide affordable quality healthcare to every American.
  2. The economy - Even before this pandemic, way too many people in our district and our country were struggling in an economy that works best for the top 1 percent. Now with 40 percent of people who make less than 40k per year unemployed, it’s more critical than ever to create an economic policy that works for the middle class.
  3. Common Sense Gun Legislation - I believe in the second Amendment. I also believe people deserve to feel safe when they go to work or school or church. The large majority of Americans of all parties (93 percent in a Fox News poll) believe we need universal background checks. We only need the political will to make that happen.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

First of all, I'll show up. My opponent has failed to hold one town hall since he took office two terms ago. I've been having them every week and will always be accessible to my constituents. As a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, and a news anchor here for almost 25 years, I've been listening to people on the First Coast, and speaking truth to power for a long time. I believe that work and my many years of philanthropy have created a bond and a trust with this community that will enable me to bring people together across a bitterly divided electorate. We must begin to see each and speak to each other again if we are to ever accomplish any long lasting good for our district and our country. My message has always been one of love and unity over fear and division. Cancer has taught me many lessons that I believe will translate to good governance. That fear only divides and never brings healing. That we are all here for just a blink and we need to do as much good as we can in the time we are allotted. That love, kindness, compassion and empathy are not weakness, but true strength.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I would hope to be remembered first as someone who always put people over politics. I will never be beholden to special interests but only to the people I serve.

I would hope to be remembered for finally making sure that every American can afford quality healthcare coverage. That goes beyond just creating the mechanism by which that will happen, but by addressing the economic inequities that keep so many Americans from realizing the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The health of our country involves addressing gun violence in a meaningful way and in acknowledging that the climate crisis will cost our region dramatically as rising seas impact our water quality and so much more. In my first term I want to accomplish meaningful legislation on all of these issues.

On a broader note, I'd like to leave a legacy of unity and inclusion.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

Specifically, we need to address the underlying causes of systemic racism in this country. We must invest in our black and brown communities, creating an infrastructure that provides the same amenities (sidewalks, lighting etc) that we see in largely white communities. We need to address the poverty that holds those communities back. That means an investment in education, and community health. It means investing in affordable housing. Our federal budget for these things has been slashed over the past four years. It means ending practices like red-lining that hold those communities back. It means reforming, retraining and rebuilding our policing practices and a greater investment in mental health and public safety. This isn't an easy quick fix. It will take commitment to addressing all of the underpinnings of racism.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

When I launched my campaign last November, I envisioned being everywhere. I love to talk with people, listen to their ideas and struggles face to face. In our first few months we held town hall meetings in every corner of the district and I'd hoped to continue that along with many other community events. Obviously Covid has made much of that in person communication impossible. I've continued to do town halls weekly on the Donna Deegan For Congress Facebook page and we are reaching out in other ways, but it's a more challenging way to campaign for sure.

Campaign website: donnadeeganforcongress.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

John Rutherford

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 67

Candidate’s family: Wife Pat, high school sweethearts married now 47 years with two children and six grandchildren.

Occupation: Congressman

Education: FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY BS Criminology; Florida Junior College AA; Graduate FBI National academy 171st Session; Graduate FBI Executive Institute

Political experience: Twelve years Sheriff of Jacksonville Sheriffs Office, in 2011 JSO achieved the lowest Murder and Violent Crime numbers in 40 years. Served as legislative chairman for the Florida Sheriff’s Association for 9 years. Now serving my second term in the United States House of Representatives.

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  • Healthcare/Insurance
  • Restore the Booming Economy in times of COVID-19
  • National Security includes military; China; The southern boarder

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I have the experience and am currently serving on the very important Appropriations Committee. I have a life time of serving the constituents of NEFL. Over forty years of Effective and Conservative leadership serving in NEFL. Proven ability to achieve results, even in Washington DC. Worked with state and local leadership to bring Jobs and revenue to NEFL. Passed 8 Bills from the House and 3 Signed into law by President Trump.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

That my constituents were well served by my office and that our Community, our State and our Country are a safer, more prosperous and more healthy place to live, work and raise a family...as I have done here on the First Coast. If you know me well, you know for these last 16 years, it’s been my honor to serve our community and my Lord in two elected Offices as Sheriff and now Congressman. I would like people to remember it was my greatest honor to protect the Hometown and NOW to protect the Homeland.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I think we need to renew our commitments to the founding principles of this Country. Principles like justice, freedom and equality for all. I don’t accept the false narrative that America is a Racist country or that our Institutions practice Institutional Racism or that American is an evil country. Go research these self proclaimed Marxist groups like BLM(the organization)or the M4BL.org and see who they are attempting to fundamentally change America. Read their own words on their websites. They are carrying out Marxist ideology and “Critical Theory” with all they say and do. But does social and racial injustices occur, yes they do, and I will continue to do all I can to stop it and deter it with the greatest of efforts. We must never turn a blind eye or deaf ear to calls for justice. I’ve spent a life time fighting for Justice. But we must also never allow Critical Theory and other divisive measures to be used to divide this great nation and turn every group upon the other. We are not a perfect Union, but I do believe in the goodness, kindness and generosity of the American Spirit and that’s why I will work, in every way possible, to make this a more...perfect Union.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Congress has been challenged to mitigate the health and economic damages to our families and businesses brought about by this horrible COVID-19 Pandemic. A once BOOMING ECONOMY was simply and willfully SHUTDOWN! We must restart our economy and open our schools in a safe and healthy way.We must continue to support Operation Warp Speed to develop more and faster testing and a new and effective vaccine, all in historically record time. We must continue to innovate and adapt our daily lives to this threat we are all facing. The one outcome of this Pandemic is that the Chinese Communist Party has been exposed for the threat they truly pose to our National and Global security. Those of us in Congress will continue to serve our constituents back home in new and different ways because of COVID-19. I miss those face to face meeting we have had with hundreds of constituents and the “work alongs” with scores of businesses. And although we now have those meeting through webEx, it’s really not the same. But we continue to faithfully serve the people and businesses of NEFL.

Campaign website: Votejohnrutherfordforcongress.com

Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Gary Koniz is qualified as a write-in candidate in this race