Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has announced he is joining the Republican Party, saying cities like Dallas need policies that promote “law and order” and “fiscal conservatism.”
In a Friday op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Johnson said Democratic policies have exacerbated crime and homelessness in cities across America.
Municipal offices in Texas, including mayoral positions, are nonpartisan. Johnson affirmed that he will “refrain from endorsing candidates seeking partisan political office” while serving as Mayor of Dallas but will vote in the Republican primary next spring and will leave office in 2027 as a Republican.
“I have no intention of changing my approach to my job,” he wrote. “But today I am changing my party affiliation.”
“I don’t believe I can stay on the sidelines any longer,” he continued. “I have always tried to be honest and say what I think is right for my city. The future of America’s great urban centers depends on the willingness of the nation’s mayors to champion law and order and practice fiscal conservatism.”
He said cities like Dallas “desperately need the genuine commitment to these principles” rather than the “inconsistent, poll-driven commitment of many Democrats.”
“American cities need Republicans — and Republicans need American cities,” Johnson wrote. “Unfortunately, many of our cities are in disarray. Mayors and other local elected officials have failed to make public safety a priority or to exercise fiscal restraint.”
“Most of these local leaders are proud Democrats who view cities as laboratories for liberalism rather than as havens for opportunity and free enterprise,” he said.
Johnson said local governments too often spend taxpayer dollars on “policies that exacerbate homelessness, coddle criminals and make it harder for ordinary people to make a living.”
“Too many local Democrats insist on virtue signaling — proposing half-baked government programs that aim to solve every single societal ill — and on finding new ways to thumb their noses at Republicans at the state or federal level. Enough,” he wrote. “This makes for good headlines, but not for safer, stronger, more vibrant cities.”
Johnson reaffirmed his commitment to pursuing his “three-pronged goal for Dallas,” which prioritizes public safety, public parks, and property tax reform.
The mayor’s announcement was received welcomingly by Republican leaders in Dallas and across Texas.
Jennifer Hajdu, chair of the Dallas County Republican Party, told The Dallas Express she is “thrilled to see Eric Johnson join the Republican Party.”
“Mayor Johnson has enjoyed support from many Republicans while he has been mayor because he has supported pro-growth, pro-business policies. I believe this is a sign of things to come,” she said in a statement. “Many Americans do not support the far-left liberal agenda that is causing uncontrolled inflation, wide-open borders, increased crime, and massive homelessness in our cities, including Dallas.”
“We gladly welcome Mayor Johnson and all those who no longer feel they have a home in the Democrat Party. We look forward to working with Mayor Johnson to protect our freedoms and our citizens and promote prosperity for all of Dallas County.”
Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi also welcomed Johnson to the party on social media, saying, “he has set the example by fighting to lower property taxes, resisted efforts to defund the police and [made] Dallas safer. We look forward to working with him to make Dallas better.”
“Texas is getting more Red every day,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “He’s pro law enforcement & won’t tolerate leftist agendas.”
Johnson’s announcement came two days after the Dallas City Council passed a record-high budget of $4.63 billion with a $120 million increase in the property tax burden. The budget and tax increase were strongly opposed by Mayor Johnson, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Former Dallas City Council candidate Barry Wernick speculated this may have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
However, not everyone has been supportive of Johnson’s announcement, with some criticizing his decision as a bait-and-switch.
“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,” said Dallas City Council Member Adam Bazaldua, per The Texas Tribune.
“It’s really unfortunate to see Mayor Johnson switch parties but also to turn his back on the electorate that’s gotten him this far in his political career,” said Dallas County Democratic Party chair Kardal Coleman.
“This is no surprise to us. It’s the worst kept secret in Texas politics, but he’s choosing his personal ambitions over the good of the whole of Texas.”
During Johnson’s inauguration in June, he invited Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to administer his oath of office. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was also present.
Johnson has now joined Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker as two of the only Republican mayors of large American cities.
“Two of the 10 largest cities in America now have Republican Mayors & they are both in Texas,” said Abbott.