Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Leaves Democratic Party, Jumps To The GOP
In what has become a perplexing trend, yet another politician who was elected as a Democrat has decided to switch over to the Republican Party. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal explaining his decision on Sept. 22. In the piece, Johnson claims that it is because of Democratic policies and positions like attempts to end cash bail that cities have become unsafe and in need of Republican leadership. Those who follow Dallas politics, however, have long been suspicious of Johnson and are not surprised.
Vinny Minchillo, a Dallas-based Republican consultant, told the Texas Tribune, “This is one of the worst kept secrets in the world of politics. This has been coming down for a long time.”
Dallas, like the other major metropolitan hubs in Texas, tends to vote heavily Democratic, a point that Dallas City Council Member Adam Bazulda echoes in his remarks to the Tribune.
“I don’t believe that it sets the tone for where the priorities are,” Bazaldua said. “In fact, that’s why I believe it would have been nice for voters to have the opportunity of knowing that party affiliation prior to going to the ballot box in May.”
Political insiders believe that the party switch is part of Johnson angling for a state position, because he will not be able to win re-election in Dallas as a Republican, even if his policies and political bedfellows have tended to lean in that direction anyway.
As Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University, explains it, “You’ve got to be a Democrat to win in Dallas. You’ve got to be a Republican to win in Texas.”
To my friend and former colleague, welcome to the Republican Party! Mayor @Johnson4Dallas is absolutely right. Conservative policies are the key to safe, thriving, and successful cities. His leadership is a shining example of that. Great news. #txlege https://t.co/suwJWCPXf8
— Dade Phelan (@DadePhelan) September 22, 2023
Johnson’s defection makes him the second Republican mayor to lead a major city in Texas, joining Dallas’s sister city, Fort Worth, and their mayor, Mattie Parker. Dallas is now the largest city in the country run by a Republican, The Washington Post reported.
Johnson seems satisfied with his decision, as he says in his article: “Today I am changing my party affiliation. Next spring, I will be voting in the Republican primary. When my career in elected office ends in 2027 on the inauguration of my successor as mayor, I will leave office as a Republican.”
Republicans, such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott, were all too eager to welcome Johnson into their fold. Abbott, along with Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, posted congratulatory messages on Twitter/X with the latter saying, “Mayor [Johnson] is absolutely right. Conservative policies are the key to safe, thriving, and successful cities. His leadership is a shining example of that. Great news.”
Texas is getting more Red every day.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson switches to Republican Party.
He’s pro law enforcement & won’t tolerate leftist agendas.
Two of the 10 largest cities in America now have Republican Mayors & they are both in Texas. https://t.co/Qn9SM7UZ1G
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 22, 2023
Texas Democrats, however, were less than thrilled and pointedly made remarks critical of Johnson’s record and signaling of conservative values over his tenure as Dallas mayor.
Gilberto Hinojosa and Shay Wyrick Cathey, the Texas Democratic Party chair and co-chair, respectively, issued a joint statement denouncing Johnson’s party change.
“In a city that deserves dedicated leadership, Mayor Johnson has been an ineffective and truant mayor, not only disconnected from Democratic values, but unable to even be an effective messenger for conservative local policy,” the statement read. “This feeble excuse for democratic representation will fit right in with Republicans — and we are grateful that he can no longer tarnish the brand and values of the Texas Democratic Party.”