Bareknuckled brawl between John Rutherford, Donna Deegan in sole TV debate

Florida’s 4th Congressional District, designed as a safe space for Republicans, is seeing a more spirited race in 2020 than recent cycles.

The R+20 district is still polling toward a double-digit victory for incumbent Rep. John Rutherford, but Democratic challenger Donna Deegan had the fundraising momentum in Q3, ahead of the only debate between the two in the 2020 cycle.

For Rutherford, who didn’t debate opponents in 2016 or 2018, this was a rare confrontation from a critic, and one skilled in the medium of television, having spent the bulk of her career as a broadcast journalist for her hometown First Coast News.

Criticisms, it turned out, went both ways, with Deegan and Rutherford finding scant common ground in their 60 minute engagement on WJXT-TV. =

Rutherford, attacked as a partisan by Deegan ahead of the debate, introduced himself as “bipartisan,” a “problem solver” who “works with people on the other side of the aisle” on a number of issues.

Deegan kneecapped that premise, chiding the Congressman for attending “maskless rallies” on behalf of President Donald Trump, the first of many contrast statements during the debate.

“You’re going all over the place, to superspreader events,” Deegan said,

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