(The Hill) – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced Friday that he is switching his party affiliation and becoming a Republican, citing disconnects with the Democratic Party on crime policy.
Johnson announced the switch in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. It makes Dallas the largest city in the country with a Republican mayor, passing neighboring Fort Worth.
“Today I am changing my party affiliation. Next spring, I will be voting in the Republican primary,” Johnson wrote. “When my career in elected office ends in 2027 on the inauguration of my successor as mayor, I will leave office as a Republican.”
Though he wrote that the switch may come as a surprise to many, few Dallas Democrats appeared to be shocked by the move.
Texas Democratic Party leadership called the switch “welcome” and said he was dishonest for running as a Democrat for his reelection in May this year.
“Given his long-standing affinity with Republican leaders and ideology … this announcement is neither surprising nor unwelcome,” the party wrote in a statement. “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.”
Dallas state Rep. John Bryant, a Democrat, also piled on against the mayor.
“Switching parties? I didn’t know he was a Democrat,” Bryant said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
In the op-ed, Johnson specifically cites crime and tax policy as reasons for breaking from Democrats. The Dallas mayor’s office is nominally nonpartisan, and Johnson has pushed for major police expansions and other anti-crime measures as mayor.
“I don’t believe I can stay on the sidelines any longer,” he wrote. “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.”
“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,” he continued. “Most of these local leaders are proud Democrats who view cities as laboratories for liberalism rather than as havens for opportunity and free enterprise.”
Dallas is one of Democrats’ strongholds in red Texas; Dallas County voted in favor of President Biden by a 32-point margin in the 2020 election. The only major Texas county that had a stronger Democratic lead was Travis County, which contains Austin.