Texas State Rep.Ryan Guillen switched from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party on Monday. He is up for re-election in 2022 and will be running as a Republican. What makes Guillen’s party switch particularly good news is that he is a Democrat from South Texas.
Joe Biden underperformed in traditionally Democrat South Texas. Guillen represents Texas House District 31, which is firmly anchored in the Rio Grande Valley. A change is beginning in the RGV as some Democrats are realizing that their party no longer represents them or their constituents. Guillen said it is the actions of the party that made him switch – the defund the police movement, the Biden border crisis, and Biden’s goal to destroy the oil and gas industry all played a factor in his decision.
‘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,’ Guillen explained.
‘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,’ he continued.
‘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 said.
‘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.’
Guillen has spent 19 years as a House Democrat. When he was elected at age 24, he became one of the youngest ever elected to the Texas Legislature. According to his website, he comes from a family of public school teachers, war veterans, and cattle ranchers. He is a sixth-generation South Texan, growing up working at the family’s feed store and as a ranch hand on the family farm, later receiving a degree in Agriculture.
Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan were both with Guillen when he made the announcement during a press conference Monday.
‘This has been the worst kept secret at the Capitol. 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,’ Governor Abbott said. Guillen, who has served in the Texas House for almost two decades, won his seat by almost 17 points in 2020.
‘John Lujan’s upset victory earlier this month in a district with a majority Hispanic population already proved that Texans are fed up with the failures of Democratic leadership and Ryan Guillen’s party switch makes that fact all the more clear,’ Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) president Dee Duncan said in a statement on Monday.
‘Today’s Democrat leaders are so focused on appeasing their fringe-left base by putting teachers’ unions ahead of parents, pushing socialist tax and spending schemes, and fighting for open border policies, that even elected officials in their own party cannot support their radical agenda anymore,’ Duncan continued.
Speaker Phelan made the same points – the Democrat Party is too far left now and is turning South Texas red, at least beginning to do so.
“Ryan’s decision to leave the Democratic Party is proof of the growing frustration with the DNC’s radical ideologies and the Biden administration’s failed border plan, attacks on the oil and gas industry, and overreaching mandates,” Phelan said.
Texas Democrats are trying to tamp down the enthusiasm shown by Republicans for Guillen’s decision. And, they point to the fact that with re-districting, Guillen’s district is moving more Republican.
“Rep. Guillen probably doesn’t believe the Republican talking points he is repeating today, but he thinks they may help him get elected again,” said Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Guillen has long supported Democratic priorities, Turner added, including Medicaid expansion and higher spending on public education, as well as voting against the Republicans’ sweeping voting and election bill last summer.
“It will be interesting to see how he explains his voting record to his new party, given Republicans’ hostility to affordable health care and the freedom to vote,” Turner said.
Guillen faced criticism from the Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa who accused him of simply making the switch in a desperate attempt to hold onto his job.
‘We’re disappointed to see him selling his soul and selling out South Texans, but we’re excited to clear the field for a real Democrat to run — one we can count on to show up for our families and put Texans first,’ Hinojosa responded.
‘Texas Democrats will keep standing up for our values and fighting to fix the biggest problems facing Texas families — whether it’s fixing our disaster-prone power grid, getting more people healthcare, or making sure working Texans have a real chance to get ahead.’
‘That’s clearly not a priority for Rep. Guillen. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,’ he added.
This party switch gives Republicans an 85-65 advantage in the Texas House. John Lujan won a special election on November 2 that flipped a Democrat seat in southern Bexar County. Along with JM Lozano of Kingsville, there are now three Latino Republicans serving in the Texas House of Representatives. The trend is a good one, especially the progress in the Rio Grande Valley.