DALLAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) -- Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson is becoming a Republican, he announced in a Wall Street Journal article appearing on an Op-Ed page Friday morning. Johnson is in his second and final term as mayor, after receiving more than 98% of the vote in his reelection campaign earlier this year.
Before becoming mayor in 2019, Johnson served five terms in the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat, representing a district that includes South Dallas and parts of Oak Cliff and Pleasant Grove.
In the op-ed, Johnson argues that cities benefit from law and order and fiscal conservatism, which he says Democratic mayors in other major cities are overlooking.
"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," Johnson wrote.
He also wrote that he believes Democratic policies "exacerbate homelessness, coddle criminals and make it harder for ordinary people to make a living," while accusing Democrats of "virtue signalling."
Johnson wrote that despite the change in his party registration, he will not change his approach to the non-partisan office of mayor.
"In the coming years, I will continue to pursue my three-pronged goal for Dallas: to become the safest major city in America with the best park system in Texas and the lowest taxes in our fast-growing North Texas region," he wrote.
The Texas GOP was quick to praise Johnson's decision on social media Friday morning.
They shared: "Let's all welcome @Johnson4Dallas to the Republican Party! His tenure as Mayor has been marked by fighting hard for lower property taxes and fully funding Dallas PD."
Governor Greg Abbott also released a statement welcoming Johnson.
"I am proud to welcome Mayor Johnson to the Republican Party––the party of freedom, opportunity, and economic prosperity," said Governor Abbott. "Mayor Johnson's decision to switch parties highlights the stark contrast many Democrat-led cities face: out-of-control crime, reckless spending, and a radical leftist agenda. During Mayor Johnson's time in office, the City of Dallas has funded their police and championed conservative economic policies, leading to safer neighborhoods and unprecedented economic growth, including attracting Fortune 500 companies to the region, and helping small businesses to thrive. I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Johnson as we build a brighter, more prosperous Texas of tomorrow."
On Monday afternoon, the statewide Texas Democratic Party also released a statement of its own, attributed to Gilberto Hinojosa and Shay Wyrick Cathey, the chair and vice-chair:
"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. In a city that deserves dedicated leadership, Mayor Johnson has been an ineffective and truant mayor, not only disconnected from Democratic values, but unable to even be an effective messenger for conservative local policy. This feeble excuse for democratic representation will fit right in with Republicans - and we are grateful that he can no longer tarnish the brand and values of the Texas Democratic Party."
Kardal Coleman, the chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party Chair, also issued a statement:
"Today's announcement by Mayor Eric Johnson is nothing short of an insult to the electorate. However, the people of Texas are not surprised. This switch is the launch of a self-centered agenda that puts politics over people. Mayor Johnson has turned his back on the very voters who trusted that he would uphold our hard-fought Democratic values. Just last week, the Texas Republican Party proved its standing as a party of corruption and crime by voting not to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton. That Johnson has the gall to join a party so blatantly opposed to the values of Dallas is an embarrassment not only to him, but to our community.
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