Mayor Eric Johnson has said one of the key reasons why he left the Democratic Party and became a Republican was the Democrats’ support of the “Defund the Police” movement.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Johnson doubled down on those statements and claimed the Democratic Party would rather protect criminals than law-abiding citizens.
“Very soon after the whole ‘Defund the Police’ nonsense started, activists showed up at my house trying to intentionally scare my family, scare my children, [and] scare me into changing my very, very clear position that we were not going to do that in Dallas,” he said.
“That really was the eye-opener in terms of — this party is really serious about protecting the criminal element over the law-abiding folks and that they weren’t really going to change,” Johnson continued.
During the 2020 protests over the death of George Floyd, Johnson stood in support of Dallas police over calls by anti-police activists to cut department funding.
“I am a person of the people,” he told Fox News. “I’m one of the people. I grew up in those communities, and I know actually what the people over there want. They’ve told me what they want. They want to live in a safe neighborhood, and they don’t want the police to leave. They want more police. … They didn’t want the police department defunded.”
Later in the interview, Johnson claimed Democrats promote a “culture of lawlessness.”
“It’s lax [district attorneys] on the Democratic side. It’s local leaders, mayors, on the Democratic side, who just created this environment,” he said.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has received criticism for his non-prosecution policy for thefts valued between $100 and $750. He later reversed course after pushback from law enforcement and community members.
Johnson told Fox News that supporting public safety and promoting fiscal responsibility while remaining a Democrat was not feasible.
“I tried that. You can’t. I’m living proof that you end up on an island isolated in that party if you try to do that,” he claimed.
Johnson said he believes his decision to become a Republican will spur other lifelong Democrats to reconsider whether they belong in the Democrat Party.
“I believe that this is actually going to be a beginning in Dallas of black folk from the communities I’ve represented for so long saying, ‘We need to give the Republican Party a look,'” he said.
Johnson encouraged voters on the fence to “get past the sound bites, and get past the personalities, and be honest with yourself about what’s important to you.”
He also reaffirmed his commitment to not endorse any presidential candidate in the 2024 Republican Party primary.
“That’s been my policy,” he said. “I declined endorsing Joe Biden when he was running for president the first time.”
Johnson said he would be willing to sit down and talk with any candidates who visit Dallas as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) did on Tuesday.
He also reaffirmed that he has no plans to run for higher office when his mayoral term ends in 2027.
“I’m not running for anything. I’m going to be the mayor of Dallas through the end of my term, and then I’m done running for elected office,” he claimed.
However, some observers maintain that Johnson may indeed pursue a higher office when he is done serving as mayor.
SMU political science professor Cal Jillson told the Dallas Observer he believes Johnson is keeping his options open to see how things develop over the next four years.
“I think he probably is more focused on an appointed position, either in Texas or in Washington, or a federal appointment in Texas, because he’s not a particularly stirring campaigner,” Jillson alleged.
Johnson was re-elected in May this year with 98% of the vote, according to City figures.
Jillson said it can be difficult for local politicians to obtain higher positions outside their cities.
“There is a great deal of work to be done to introduce yourself, and you’ve got to raise a great deal of money to do it,” Jillson said. “So, my assumption is that [Johnson is] keeping his options open, but the more natural option for him would be an appointed position rather than an elected one — a partisan elected office.”