In a surprise announcement Tuesday, State Rep. Eric Johnson (D–Dallas) entered the already crowded race for Dallas mayor. Nine candidates are now running to replace term-limited Mayor Mike Rawlings.
Johnson said he will not resign his seat in the Texas Legislature — in session now through May 27 — in order to compete in the May 4 election.
Voters in House District 100 just re-elected Johnson to a fifth term to represent them in Austin, and he had previously toyed with a run for House Speaker.
Johnson, an attorney, defeated seven-term incumbent Terri Hodge in the March 2010 Democrat primary, after Hodge pleaded guilty to participating in the Dallas City Hall federal corruption scandal — a bribery and extortion scheme involving affordable housing developments in Dallas. Hodge was forced to resign and sentenced to a year in prison. Johnson has never faced a Republican opponent in a general election.
In each of his four previous terms, Johnson has earned failing scores on the Fiscal Responsibility Index.
“I believe I offer the citizens of Dallas a unique combination of experience, energy, and creativity when it comes to solving problems, along with a proven track record of working well with people from varying backgrounds in order to accomplish great things,” Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson joins a crowded cast of characters running for the open mayoral seat: ex-lawmaker Jason Villalba, Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs, Dallas Independent School District trustee Miguel Solis, real estate developer Mike Ablon, philanthropist Lynn McBee, businessman and former Dallas Housing Authority chair Albert Black Jr., longtime Democrat operative Regina Montoya, and 2016 presidential candidate for the Socialist Workers Party Alyson Kennedy.
Former Dallas city attorney and chief lobbyist Larry Casto dropped out of the race last week and endorsed Ablon, saying he preferred to return to his 25-year career as the city’s tax-funded lobbyist in Austin.
Candidates have until February 15 to file for a place on the May 4 ballot. All 14 Dallas City Council seats are also up for election.