Dallas Mayor Latest Public Office Holder to Leave Democratic Party
On September 22, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced that he was switching his political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, citing concerns over Democratic policies that he argues have “exacerbated crime and homelessness.” Johnson is the latest in a surge of public office holders to disavow the Democratic Party over what they say is a continued pattern of extremism on an array of issues that defies common sense.
In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Johnson described his time as a Democrat in the Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives before becoming the mayor of Dallas, where he “[found] common-sense solutions and worked closely with my conservative colleagues to improve policing, public education and water infrastructure.”
But as Johnson went on to argue, “[M]any 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.”
As a result, says Johnson, “local tax dollars are spent on policies that exacerbate homelessness, coddle criminals and make it harder for ordinary people to make a living. … 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.”
With the party switch, Johnson has become the first Republican mayor among the nation’s 10 largest cities. Under Democratic leadership, America’s largest cities have seen crime and homelessness swell. Chicago saw a 36% increase in overall crime in 2022, with an additional surge this year. In Los Angeles, homelessness has seen a sharp 10% rise. Philadelphia has seen sustained looting and property destruction that have terrified local residents.
Some Democratic officials have also begun to complain about the chaos at the southern border and how it is affecting their localities. On Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) declared that the border “is too open right now” and called on Congress to “limit” border crossers. “People coming from all over the world are finding their way through simply saying they need asylum,” she said. “And the majority of them seem to be ending up in the streets of New York. And that is a real problem for New York City, 125,000 newly arrived individuals. And we are being taxed.” New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) made similar comments in recent weeks, saying that the migrant crisis could “destroy this city.”
For months, congressional Republicans have begged the Biden administration to take executive action to slow the flow of illegal border crossings, to no avail.
Johnson has become the latest among many Democratic public office holders to switch to the GOP in recent years. Former Democratic Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) applauded Johnson’s move, telling Fox News on Monday, “There used to be room for something called a Blue Dog Democrat, a conservative Democrat. Those times are no more. … [T]here is no longer really a conservative branch of the Democratic Party.”
In the first seven months of 2023, five state legislators switched their party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, citing ideological differences over parental rights, school choice, and party intolerance. Last December, Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema switched her affiliation from Democrat to Independent, saying that the move would “provide a place of belonging for many folks across the state and the country, who also are tired of the partisanship.”
A new poll from Morning Consult has found that American voters “see the Democratic Party as more ideologically extreme than the GOP” by a nine-point margin.
Ken Blackwell, a former mayor of Cincinnati who currently serves as Family Research Council’s senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, was not surprised by Johnson’s switch in light of what he sees as a clear shift to extremism within the Democratic Party.
“I think the Democratic Party has become captured by cultural Marxists who fundamentally believe in the concentration of power in the administrative state,” he told The Washington Stand. “They embrace globalism, and their advancement threatens national sovereignty. They have also embraced a criminal element where they have become an apologist for that element that threaten the safety of families and neighborhoods and cities.”
Blackwell further noted that the differences between the parties on basic order and freedom are becoming increasingly stark.
“The contrast is becoming clearer and clearer,” he continued. “If you believe that capital seeks the path of least resistance and greatest opportunity, you believe in markets, you believe in law and order, and you believe that there is a country worth fighting for. I think more and more clearheaded politicians are embracing the Republican message.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.