One of Sen. Tim Scott’s first campaign events following the second Republican debate was a meeting with a new member of the party: Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.
Johnson last month wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal announcing he was leaving the Democratic Party to join the Republican Party, making him the only Republican mayor leading a top-10 U.S. city by population.
“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.”
On Tuesday, Scott met Johnson for lunch in Dallas, where the two spoke privately for about 45 minutes. It marked Scott’s first public campaign appearance since leaving California, where he participated in the second primary debate and spoke at the state GOP convention.
Scott said Johnson gave him advice that’s “helpful for our country and specifically for the Black community.”
“Number one, he’s talked about playing by the rules and the importance of playing by the rules.” Scott said. “Number two, he said that any African American finds themselves starting where he and I started — had to go through a maze, understanding what it takes to make it through the maze. It’s really important.”
Scott revealed the two Black Republicans have known each other for “years,” first meeting at a service run by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
“It’s fantastic to have him as a friend. We’ve been talking for a few years now,” Scott said.
Johnson did not speak to reporters following his meeting with Scott. He has made few public appearances since announcing his party switch. His last public appearance was at a city council meeting last month, where state Democrats called for his resignation.
“Mayor Eric Johnson’s switch to the Republican Party is nothing short of an insult to Dallas voters.” Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Kardal Coleman said in a statement. “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.”
Scott suggested Dallas Democrats weren’t welcoming to Johnson.
“We’re so thankful that he did what he’s done, and he’s joined the Republican Party because he felt like he was no longer welcomed where he was, because he thought there was a better path forward, so we’re thankful for that,” Scott said.
Dallas’ mayoral position is technically nonpartisan, and Johnson in the op-ed said he has “no intention of changing” his approach to the job.
Scott has been raising money off of the meeting, telling his supporters, “I’m proud to stand with [Johnson] because he knows that there must be a conservative approach to crime and the economy. But not everyone knows this… It’s up to you and me to spread the word and stop this, but it costs money! That’s why I need your help. Will you chip in and help me put a STOP to the Left’s radical policies and RESTORE conservative values?”