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Re: How Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson's switch to GOP could impact his political career

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Artifical Intelligence Czar Kamala Harris

Nov 6, 2023, 12:35:03 AM11/6/23
In article <ui9ljn$7qto$>

> Biden and Harris both lower the IQ scale.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s switch to the Republican Party could
give him an easier road for statewide office, though he’ll still
have a bumpy ride appealing to the GOP’s most conservative voters.

Political observers say Johnson is positioning himself as a
Republican candidate of the future, one that moves past the culture
war issues enticing hard-right conservatives.

“Today, at this hour, if you want to be a statewide official in
Texas, you have to be a Republican and a super conservative
Republican,” said Vinny Minchillo, a Plano-based GOP consultant who
has worked on the presidential campaigns of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.
“There is a group of people who realize that’s not a long-term
winning strategy, that we are going to have to change because of
demographics. That would pave the way for Johnson as a Republican
candidate of the future.”

Johnson did not address his political plans beyond being mayor in
announcing his move away from the Democratic Party. In The Wall
Street Journal piece he wrote about the decision, he cited city
issues related to fiscal conservatism.

“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,” Johnson 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.”

He added that as mayor he would continue a three-pronged approach
for Dallas, including making it the safest city in America with the
best park system and the lowest taxes in North Texas.

Johnson said he would start voting Republican this spring. He has
called being mayor a dream job and has not publicly mentioned
running for another office.

“Next spring, I will be voting in the Republican Primary,” he wrote.
“When my career in elected office ends in 2027 on the inauguration
of my successor as mayor, I will leave office as a Republican.”

The choice will have its most relevance when Johnson decides to run
for higher office.

As it stands now, Johnson’s defection could create tougher political
challenges, observers say.

“Viability for Democrats statewide is nonexistent,” said Republican
political consultant Matthew Langston, whose clients identify as
very conservative. “The problem for Eric Johnson is going to be his
record. He’s got to make it out of a Republican primary. Who is he
going to beat? Is it (Attorney General) Ken Paxton, (Lt. Gov. ) Dan
Patrick or (Gov.) Greg Abbott? Obviously, welcome to the party, but
I don’t know that his path has changed much for statewide

In switching parties, Johnson has irked Democrats, particularly in
Dallas County, which has been a Democratic Party stronghold since

“If he wants to go and chase political money and political
opportunities in the Republican primary, best of luck to him with
his voting record when he was in the Legislature,” said Kendall
Scudder, a progressive Democratic Party strategist who hosts the Pod
Bless Texas podcast.

“Now he’s simply a man without a political home,” Scudder said.
“Good luck getting Republicans to like you.”

Johnson’s reception by GOP primary voters will vary, said Dallas
County Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Stoddard-Hajdu.

“Of course, there are going to be some Republicans that are going to
say, ‘He’s just a Democrat,’ ” she said. “The vast majority of
Republicans welcome anyone who doesn’t feel like they have a home in
the Democrat Party anymore to our side of the aisle.”

Parts of Johnson’s record are appealing to primary voters, she said.

“If he decides to run for higher office, he can show that he’s
fiscally conservative,” she said. “He can show that he’s pro-
business and that he’s fought for limits on tax appraisals.”

Johnson represented Dallas’ House District 100 in parts of southern,
western and eastern Dallas for nine years before becoming mayor.
He’s been mentioned as a possible congressional candidate, but
political observers say he has loftier goals.

Options could emerge in 2026, when he could run for the Senate seat
held by Republican John Cornyn, or make a bid for a statewide
executive post, including governor, lieutenant governor or attorney

Johnson’s record includes support for women’s reproductive rights.
He also lined up with most Democrats on fighting COVID 19, including
shutting down businesses during the early months of the pandemic and
supporting mask mandates.

In running as a Republican candidate, Johnson will have to discuss
culture war issues involving transgender Americans, immigration
reform and abortion, and he’ll have to embrace or defend
controversial party leaders like former President Donald Trump and
Paxton, who was just acquitted by the Texas Senate on impeachment

“He’ll have opportunities that he didn’t previously, but man it’s
tough when you’re trying to make it out of a primary with his
background,” Langston said.

Johnson’s party change does raise his profile. Most big city mayors
are Democrats, so he becomes a symbol of the conservative call for
new leadership in America’s urban areas.

“This is very bad news if you’re a Democrat, because you have
somebody who was a rising star in the Democratic Party who didn’t
see a future beyond mayorship or, perhaps, a congressional seat,”
Minchillo said.

Leading Republicans are rolling out the welcome mats. On Friday,
Johnson received praise from Abbott and others who say Republicans
with conservative values are needed in urban centers.

For many Democrats, though, it’s a disappointment.

“This has been the plan all along for them and him,” said Kardal
Coleman, chairman of the Dallas County Democratic Party. “It’s no
secret that the Republican Party has been courting Black men
specifically, and Black voters. Johnson is just the latest to take
the bait.”

Democrats could learn a lesson from Johnson’s departure, said Dallas
Black Chamber Chairman Randall Bryant.

“The largest group of voters Republicans can go after right now in
Texas is college-educated and business-minded Black men,” Bryant
said. “Eric Johnson speaks that language being a lawyer and being
pro-business. Democrats need to start talking about business
policies within their platform or risk giving leverage for these
types of things.”

Stoddard-Hajdu said she’s happy to have Johnson as a Republican,
adding it helps the party’s overall effort to win races in urban
areas controlled by Democrats.

“We’re thrilled to add somebody like Mayor Johnson to our ranks,”
she said. “Honestly, he’s been supported by Republicans for quite
some time.”
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