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A longtime Texas Democrat legislator announced today that he is switching his political affiliation to the GOP in his reelection bid.
At a press conference where he was joined by Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, state Rep. Ryan Guillen explained why he made the move.
“Friends, something is happening in South Texas, and many of us are waking up to the fact that the values of those in Washington, D.C., are not our values, not the values of most Texans. The ideology of defunding the police, of destroying the oil and gas industry and the chaos at our border is disastrous for those of us who live here in South Texas,” the lawmaker said, according to the Houston Chronicle
First elected in 2002, Guillen represents Texas District 31 in the Rio Grande Valley area and reportedly developed the reputation as the least-liberal Democrat in the state House in terms of his voting record. He was notably not among the many House Democrats who skipped town earlier this year to stall, temporarily, the Texas election integrity bill because of an absence of a quorum.
“And he was the only Democrat to vote last month for a bill preventing transgender students athletes from playing on teams that correspond with their gender identity,” the Chronicle recalled.
.@RyanGuillen makes his party switch official w/ @GregAbbott_TX & @DadePhelan in Floresville.
“Friends, something is happening in South Texas, and many of us are waking up to the fact that the values of those in Washington, DC, are not the values of most Texans.” #txlege pic.twitter.com/x1MjDZExan
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) November 15, 2021
“Throughout my entire career, creating a prosperous business climate, defending the Second Amendment, and protecting the lives of the unborn are the cornerstones of how I have represented my district,” Guillen also said, NBC affiliate KXAN reported.
“After much consideration and prayer with my family, I feel that my fiscally conservative, pro-business, and pro-life values are no longer in-step with the Democrat Party of today, and I am proudly running as a Republican to represent House District 31,” he added.
“Abbott commended Guillen for the move, saying Democratic policies no longer represent the values of the Hispanic community in south Texas,” KXAN added. According to Guillen’s website, he is a “6th generation South Texas rancher and small businessman.”
Via social media, GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel also welcomed Guillen:
After 10 terms in office as a Democrat, I’d like to welcome Texas Rep. @RyanGuillen to the Republican Party!
Let’s keep this momentum going into 2022!
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) November 15, 2021
There has been a lot of reporting that, particularly in the 2020 election with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, many counties in South Texas began trending toward the GOP, which suggests that a significant political realignment is in play.
A South Texas state representative switches to the Republican Party — very big deal as the America First movement transforms the GOP into a party of working-class citizens, including many Latinos.
Welcome aboard, Rep. Guillen!https://t.co/WUgDA5tryo
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) November 15, 2021
Shortly after the election, moderate Democrat U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar explained that “Aside from Hispanic heritage, most of the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas have similar demographics to Trump’s strongholds in rural communities across the country. It’s homogenous, deeply religious, pensively patriotic, socially conservative, and it’s hurting economically.”
GOP scores BIG win in blue Texas county, winning mayor’s race in Hispanic majority border city https://t.co/MF5FRmVZNo pic.twitter.com/oY7d40uQEc
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 7, 2021
Some Democrats have dismissed Guillen’s party switch as mere opportunism because redistricting has made his district more red.
“This has been the worst kept secret at the Capitol,” Gov. Abbott, who is also seeking reelection in 2022, quipped at Monday’s presser in Floresville, Tex. “Everyone has known that Ryan Guillen is really a Republican who is attached to the wrong label. Ryan, We’re glad you finally came out of the closet.”
Abbott also took the media opportunity to slam Democrat Beto O’Rouke, who has announced a run for governor.
“He wants to go take your guns, and deny you your Second Amendment rights. We will not let that happen in the state of Texas,” the governor vowed.
Welcome to the party of freedom, opportunity & prosperity @RyanGuillen.
As Dems move further left, they're abandoning the people of South Texas & their values.
Rep. Guillen's decision to switch parties is indicative of a shifting landscape in South Texas. pic.twitter.com/6gwEV0DNqB
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 15, 2021
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