Texas has become a deeper shade of red now that Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has decided to abandon Democrats and join ranks with Republicans. He announced his plan to leave the Democrat Party in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed titled “America’s Cities Need Republicans, and I’m Becoming One.”
His political shift now makes Dallas the nation’s largest GOP-led city in the nation.
Dallas first elected Johnson in 2019 and again in 2023. Running on a platform of “safer, stronger, and more vibrant,” Johnson sailed to his second term victory with a staggering 98% of votes Johnson has never led Dallas in a true-Democrat style. He believes in law and order, fiscal conservatism, and even (gasp) lower taxes for residents. His anti-crime stance centered around a unique partnership with Police Chief Eddie Garcia, and under Johnson’s watch, violent crime has fallen significantly.
Dallas uses a policing strategy of “hotspot” crime reduction designed to increase officer visibility and intelligence to improve safety in hard-hit areas throughout the city. In the program’s first year, violent crime in the targeted hotspots decreased by 11%. After the second year, violent crime was down approximately 31% in these neighborhoods, with no apparent spread to surrounding areas. City records also indicate a decrease in robberies of more than 10% and a drop of nearly 15% in aggravated assaults between January 1 and August 12 compared to the previous year.
It’s just one of the conservative values Johnson embraces. Mayor Johnson, along with four other Dallas council members, voted against the city’s $4.8 billion budget this week because he believed it didn’t cut the property tax rate enough, a priority for Texas Republicans. Johnson observes that local tax dollars were being spent on policies he deemed detrimental, such as exacerbating homelessness and being too lenient on criminals, and how some local Democrats focused on virtue signaling and half-baked government programs rather than practical solutions for societal issues. He emphasized the need for a shift in focus towards safer, stronger, and more vibrant cities rather than political posturing.
Johnsons cites many inefficiencies in Dallas, arguing that there are many welfare programs in the city that he believes serve only a tiny portion of the population and could be cut. He questioned the “essential nature” of some services for the city’s poor population, stating that he doesn’t understand what they are or who uses them. He pointed to polling data that suggests most Dallas residents want lower taxes.
Saving money by cutting wasteful spending? What a concept.
In his op-ed, Mayor Johnson criticizes mayors and other local elected officials for not prioritizing public safety and not practicing fiscal restraint. He points out that many of these local leaders are members of the Democratic Party and tend to see cities as testing grounds for liberal policies rather than as places that should foster opportunity and free enterprise.
Mayor Johnson’s switch to the Republican Party instantly elevates him to one of the most prominent Black Republicans in the country, alongside South Carolina Senator and former presidential candidate Tim Scott and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
Johnson has joined a growing list of Democrat defectors. West Virginia’s Elliott Pritt, Louisiana’s Jeremy LaCombe and Francis Thompson, North Carolina’s Tricia Cotham, and New Jersey Mayor Joseph Pannullo are just a few other notable political figures to abandon the progressive party.
But the decision to play for the winning team may come at a cost. Dallas is a staunchly Democratic city. In the 2020 presidential election, Dallas County heavily favored Joe Biden over Donald Trump, with a margin of over 30 percentage points. Some local politicians argue that Mayor Johnson’s party change might put him at odds with the preferences of the city’s voters.
Texas Democratic Party leaders argue that he had not been honest with voters during his reelection campaign, and they believe that his conservative leanings should have been disclosed before his reelection, not after.
Kardal Coleman, Dallas County Democratic Party Chair, accused Johnson of betraying the trust of Dallas voters who expected him to uphold Democratic values. Coleman viewed Johnson’s political party switch as an embarrassment to the community and accused him of abandoning both his values and the people of Dallas.
Mayor Johnson’s decision to switch political parties, according to a local Republican consultant, was not a well-kept secret in the world of politics and had been anticipated for a while. State Rep. John Bryant, a Democrat from Dallas, quipped, “Switching parties? I didn’t know he was a Democrat.”
Of course, Dallas is thriving under Johnson’s conservative values, but it seems that to Democrats, a party label is far more important than tangible results.