Dallas mayor switches parties, making the city the nation’s largest with a GOP mayor

FILE – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson speaks to those congregated during the funeral Mass for Dallas Police Officer Jacob Arellano at St. Paul Catholic Church in Richardson, Texas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. Johnson said Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, that he is switching political parties, making the city the largest in the nation led by a GOP mayor. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

AUSTIN, Texas — Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced Friday that he is switching to the Republican Party, making the city the largest in the U.S. to be led by a GOP mayor. 

Although mayoral offices in Texas are nonpartisan, the switch is a boost for Texas Republicans who have been losing ground around the state’s major cities for more than a decade. Johnson was elected mayor in 2019 after serving more than a decade as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives. 

Making the announcement in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Johnson said he was never a favorite of Democrats in the Capitol and called on mayors to champion “law and order” and fiscal conservatism. 

“This is hardly a red wave. But it is clear that the nation and its cities have reached a time for choosing,” Johnson wrote. “And the overwhelming majority of Americans who call our cities home deserve to have real choices—not ‘progressive’ echo chambers—at city hall.” 

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quickly welcomed Johnson into the party. The mayor of neighboring Fort Worth, Mattie Parker, is also a Republican, giving Texas two of the nation’s largest cities with GOP leaders. 

“Texas is getting more Red every day,” Abbott posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. 

Johnson is in his second and final term as mayor, which runs through 2027. As a state lawmaker, Johnson made headlines over his successful efforts to remove a plaque in the Texas Capitol that rejected slavery as an underlying cause of the Civil War. His push at the time occasionally put Johnson and Abbott in conflict over discussions to remove the marker. 

Texas Democratic Party expressed a lack of surprise in the switch. 

“But the voters of Dallas deserved to know where he stood before he ran for reelection as Mayor,” the party said in a statement. “He wasn’t honest with his constituents, and knew he would lose to a Democrat if he flipped before the election.” 

During his mayoral run, Johnson has embraced policies denounced by Democrats elsewhere in Texas, including using state troopers to police cities. 

The move is the latest in a string of Democrats moving to the GOP. 

In April, North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham joined the Republican Party. That was followed by Georgia state Rep. Mesha Mainor, who would join Cotham at an event for state legislators in the summer.