Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers updated on the most essential Texas news.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, a longtime Democrat, has officially switched party affiliation to become a Republican. With this move, Dallas now becomes the largest city in the country with a GOP mayor. In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, Johnson expressed his decision to vote in the Republican primary next spring and leave office as a Republican when his term ends in 2027.
Prior to being elected as Dallas mayor in 2019, Johnson served in the Texas Legislature for nine years as a Democrat. While the mayor’s position is technically nonpartisan, Johnson’s party switch aligns him with Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker as one of two Republican mayors leading major Texas cities.
This switch did not come as a surprise to Dallas political observers, who have noticed Johnson’s leaning towards the GOP and distancing from Democrats. Johnson’s vision for Dallas, as outlined in his op-ed, aligns with the Republican Party’s emphasis on law enforcement, low property taxes, and a business-friendly environment. Throughout his tenure as mayor, Johnson has supported anti-crime initiatives and forged a strong bond with Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia.
Johnson’s party switch positions him as one of the most prominent Black Republicans in the country, along with figures like Senator Tim Scott and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. However, his decision has drawn criticism from some local politicians who believe it does not reflect the priorities of Dallas voters.
Political analysts see Johnson’s party switch as a potential precursor to a statewide bid for office, a space that Democrats have struggled to break into in Texas. The move is also seen as a commentary on the current state of the Democratic Party in Texas.
Texas Republicans have warmly welcomed Johnson into their party, praising his stance on law enforcement and conservative policies. On the other hand, the Texas Democratic Party officials have responded with strong criticism, calling Johnson an ineffective and disconnected mayor.
While Johnson did not mention his party switch during a recent Texas Tribune panel event, he emphasized the nonpartisan nature of his office and advocated for a conservative approach to spending in Dallas, citing inefficiency and a need to cut welfare programs.
Overall, Johnson’s party switch has sparked conversations about local politics, party affiliation, and the future of Texas elections.