The mayor of deep blue Dallas has ditched the Democratic Party, citing his disdain for 'virtue signaling.' It gives the GOP a foothold in one of America's biggest cities.

Eric Johnson
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
  • Eric Johnson, the mayor of Dallas, has left the Democratic Party and joined the GOP.

  • Johnson, in a WSJ op-ed, called out Democrats for what he said was their "virtue signaling" on issues.

  • The party switch gives Republicans a major foothold in one of the country's most populous cities.

For years, Republicans have struggled to win over voters in America's largest cities, in part because of the dominance of the party's conservative wing.

But on Friday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP, giving the party a major foothold in the ninth-largest city in the country — and perhaps aiding Republicans in a state where they still dominate but are battling back a fierce resistance from the state's Democrats.

Johnson — who was first elected mayor in 2019 and reelected earlier this year with 98.7% of the vote — took to The Wall Street Journal to announce the party switch, where he criticized his old party while insisting that the GOP needed to be a part of the conversation in the country's biggest cities.

"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," he wrote. "Our cities desperately need the genuine commitment to these principles (as opposed to the inconsistent, poll-driven commitment of many Democrats) that has long been a defining characteristic of the GOP."

"In other words, American cities need Republicans — and Republicans need American cities," he continued. "When my political hero Theodore Roosevelt was born, only 20% of Americans lived in urban areas. By the time he was elected president, that share had doubled to 40%. Today, it stands at 80%. As America's cities go, so goes America."

In the 1990s, GOP figures, including Rudy Giuliani and Richard Riordan, won the mayoralties of New York and Los Angeles, respectively, when the party had a sizable centrist bloc that often leaned to the left on issues like abortion and environmental protection.

Johnson cannot run for reelection to a third term in 2027, so he'll be able to serve out the remainder of his tenure as a member of the Republican Party. The Dallas mayoralty is technically a nonpartisan position, but Johnson — who is Black — was previously a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives and had long been aligned with the party's more moderate wing.

In the op-ed, Johnson also wrote of his continued push to emphasize stronger public safety measures while blasting Democrats for what he said was their lack of substance on critical issues facing cities like Dallas.

"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," he wrote. "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 added.

It is unclear what Johnson's political future may look like given his long-standing record in the Democratic Party, but he was welcomed to the GOP by key figures, including controversial Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas Republican Party chairman Matt Rinaldi.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who had spoken with Johnson shortly before the op-ed went public and was unaware of the mayor's decision, told The New York Times that the party switch was not a harbinger of a political trend.

"I don't think it speaks to any sort of shift in terms of party affiliation or African American mayors," Turner said. "I think it has to be viewed as an individual making an individual decision. I don't think it speaks to any sort of movement."

"Mayors across the country, Democratic mayors, we are the boots on the ground. We are responding to people's needs," he added.

Read the original article on Business Insider