Dallas County Democrats call on Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson to resign after changing parties

Democratic party chair says "scores of angry voters" feel "deceived and blindsided by the mayor's announcement"

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After declaring last week he'd vote in the March primary as a Republican, there are growing calls for Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson to resign.

Despite the office of the mayor being a nonpartisan office, Dallas County Democrats said Tuesday that Johnson, "Knowingly portrayed himself as a lifelong Democratic voter and representative throughout his re-election campaign for mayor" and that he should step down.

Johnson hasn't issued a public statement about his party affiliation since publishing an editorial in the Wall Street Journal last week announcing his decision. He said at the time he had no intention of changing his approach to his job as mayor and that he would keep the promises he made to Dallas voters. NBC 5 has reached out to the mayor's office for comment, but so far we have not received a response.

Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn King Arnold said citizens should not be alarmed and that Johnson's party affiliation should not affect local government.

"We have a responsibility, and we are going to continue to serve. I know that's my commitment," Arnold told NBC 5.

Last week, Dallas City Councilwoman Paul Blackmon issued a similar statement saying party affiliation played no role in how she served her district and that she "ran for municipal office with the strong belief that partisan politics should not influence decisions affecting our residents."

Dallas Morning News political writer Gromer Jeffers told NBC 5 last week that Johnson has always been a fiscal conservative, fought against cutting funds to police and battled with progressives on the city council.

For many, Johnson's move across the aisle wasn't a huge surprise. Still, Democratic party chair Kardal Coleman said the switch is an insult to Dallas voters and that his decision to switch parties is an "embarrassment."

In a statement Tuesday, Coleman said Dallas County Democrats have heard from "scores of angry voters" who they said felt "deceived and blindsided by the mayor's announcement."

"Mayor Eric Johnson's switch to the Republican Party is nothing short of an insult to Dallas voters. The Texas Republican Party proved it is the party of corruption and crime by voting not to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton. Johnson's decision to join that party is an embarrassment to him and to our community. Mayor Johnson has run out on his job, he's run out on the voters that elected him, and now his time has run out. Eric Johnson must resign now," Coleman said.

Texas Democrats issued a similar statement on Friday saying Johnson wasn't honest with his constituents and that he'd risk losing the election if he'd switched parties before running unopposed as a Democrat.

Dallas mayors are limited to two terms, and Johnson is in his second, so the question now is whether the party switch is to position himself for future political goals.

"It's hard to run as a Republican in Dallas County and many areas in Dallas and win as well," Jeffers said. "So he's probably looking at some type of state office down the road. Maybe an appointment or something like that."

Dallas County Democrats weren't as kind in their assessment of the move.

"This switch is the launch of a selfish and cynical strategy to get his next job at the expense of his current job, the one Dallas voters elected him to do. He is putting politics, and his resume, ahead of the people," they said in a news release.

Dallas County Democrats encouraged disenchanted voters to register to speak at future City Council meetings and publicly call for the mayor's resignation.

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