Bye bye Democrats, hello Republicans: Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson switches parties

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson is switching from being a member of the Democrat Party to the Republican Party. This is a pleasant development in Texas, where the big cities, except Fort Worth, have Democrat mayors.

On Friday, an op-ed by Johnson was published in the Wall Street Journal. A former Democrat state house representative, he was re-elected to his second term as mayor in May. This move is being described as unprecedented for a sitting mayor. The mayor and City Council positions are nonpartisan. Many cities make that claim but voters usually know which party the mayoral candidates and City Council candidates represent.

I have been mayor of Dallas for more than four years. During that time, my priority has been to make the city safer, stronger and more vibrant. That meant saying no to those who wanted to defund the police. It meant fighting for lower taxes and a friendlier business climate. And it meant investing in family friendly infrastructure such as better parks and trails.

That approach is working. Alone among America’s 10 most populous cities, Dallas has brought violent crime down in every major category, including murder, year-over-year for the past two years. In a recent Gallup poll asking Americans to rate the safety of major cities, Dallas came out on top. We have also reduced our property tax rate every year since I took office, signaling to investors that Dallas intends to remain the nation’s most pro-business city. This philosophy has helped attract growing small businesses and several Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, the construction-engineering firm Aecom and the global commercial real-estate outfit CBRE.

After these wins for the people of Dallas—and after securing 98.7% of the vote in my re-election campaign this year—I have no intention of changing my approach to my job. But 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.

He sounds like a Republican. He seems to be pretty popular in Dallas. He was the only mayoral candidate listed on ballots for the first time in 50 years. He receive 93% of the vote. One write-in candidate received 1% and the other 6% write-in votes went elsewhere.

In both of his mayoral races, Johnson has received the support of some big donor Republicans. He asked Senator John Cornyn to administer his oath of office last June.

Johnson’s top priorities in office have been public safety, city ethics reform, workforce development, increasing parks and green space and boosting the city’s international standing. He realizes that cities need Republicans, and Republicans need cities. He pointed out that urban cities depend on champions of law and order and fiscal conservatism. Johnson said that today, 80% of Americans live in urban areas. “As America’s cities go, so goes America.”

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.

Too often, local tax dollars are spent on policies that exacerbate homelessness, coddle criminals and make it harder for ordinary people to make a living. And 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. This makes for good headlines, but not for safer, stronger, more vibrant cities.

He’s right. The social experiments and progressive virtue signaling are killing American cities. We see the effects of the defund the police movement in several major cities and the harm done by declaring cities as sanctuary cities, too. Conservative policies work.

City Council members are not necessarily shocked that Johnson is switching parties but wonder why he is doing it now. He doesn’t leave office until 2027. Council member Jaime Resendez calls Johnson an opportunist. Perhaps Johnson sees an opportunity further down the line in another political office. There is some speculation he may have his sights on running for the U.S. Senate in the future. Politicians don’t make this kind of move without some type of plan so it will be interesting to see what develops.

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