In the wake of his announcement that he will be joining the GOP, Eric Johnson faces calls to resign from both politicians and voters who feel misled by the Dallas mayor. The 47-year-old city native has served since 2019 and his current term ends in 2027. Johnson makes this announcement following his re-election after running unopposed in May of this year, calling into question the politician’s ethics in taking advantage of incumbent party status to keep a leadership position.
In his op-ed for Wall Street Journal, titled “America’s Cities Need Republicans, and I’m Becoming One,” Mayor Eric Johnson attempts to justify his switch to the Republican Party by laying out what he considers to be achievements of his administration. Johnson credits his policies as having successfully ushered in new hope for Dallas, despite widespread homelessness, a high homicide rate, inaccessibility to housing, food deserts, and incredibly poor air quality.
Aside from claims of transformative change that have been repeatedly met with skepticism, criticism, and provision of greater context, Johnson lauds the core issues confronted by the GOP.
“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,” Johnson writes. “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.”
While Johnson’s claim of lowering crime rates in the city has been met with skepticism given the city’s poor record in consistently keeping track of crime numbers, he famously suggested that Dallas build a new stadium for an additional sports team within three months of a statistical spike in chronic homelessness. Furthermore, the Dallas mayor has consistently catered to businesses with the establishment of the Small Business Center while offering minimal solidarity to labor unions, doing little to offer workers (ordinary people) in the city fairer statutes and greater rights in the realm of employment.
Improvements cited by Johnson are either meager or false, as the homeless population only decreased slightly by around 160 people from 2022, the homicide rate has increased and shows no signs of slowing down, and newly established trails have raised safety concerns.
Claude Cummings Jr., member of the NAACP National Board of Directors and 1st Vice President of the Houston Chapter of NAACP, wrote in an op-ed submitted to Dallas Examiner titled “Disrespect and Deception: We’re looking at you Tim Scott and Eric Johnson,” that the Dallas Mayor used his affiliation with the Democratic Party to get elected only to push a conservative agenda once in office. To Cummings Jr., Johnson’s announcement that he was switching parties was confirmation of just that.
In their statement responding to Johnson’s switch, the Texas Democratic Party said:
“Given his long-standing affinity with Republican leaders and ideology — like when he cozied up with longtime podcast host Ted Cruz at his inauguration this year — this announcement is neither surprising nor unwelcome. But the voters of Dallas deserved to know where he stood before he ran for reelection as Mayor. He wasn’t honest with his constituents, and knew he would lose to a Democrat if he flipped before the election.”
While the mayor’s office is nonpartisan, Johnson’s status as a Democrat during the last election firmly established him as the likely winning candidate as Dallas County has been consistently blue since 2008 with 65% of registered voters supporting Joe Biden for election in 2020.
Yesterday, while the Mayor was absent during the routine City Council Meeting, Kerdel Thompson of the Dallas County Democratic Party took the podium to address the Mayor. “There were hundreds, maybe even thousands, who have worked hard to elect you. I have heard from many of them regarding your political change. You have betrayed their trust,” Thompson said.
Dallas County Democrats have started a petition for the mayor to resign in the aftermath of his announcement with constituents online echoing this sentiment.
While leadership in city government is typically non-partisan, Johnson utilized his status as a member of the leading party in the county to hold his election seat despite full awareness of his disillusionment and gradual disassociation with the Democratic Party. Seemingly placing his sights on higher political aspirations after 2027, Johnson has set the stage for an electoral run for either state or federal office. With the trust of his constituents taking the back burner to his career goals, Johnson has made no bones about his close association with Republicans, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
While Johnson’s switch is not surprising, it exposes a deeply unethical political approach that thrives on the manipulation of voters and party loyalty rather than meaningful policy changes and novel approaches in tackling issues in housing, crime, and infrastructure.
To add your voice to the call for Mayor Johnson’s resignation, click here to sign the petition.