South Texas State Representative Ryan Guillen switches to Republican Party as he runs for 11th term

Long-time South Texas state representative Ryan Guillen changes parties and kicks off his Republican re-election campaign on Monday after serving nearly two decades in the state House of Representatives as a Democrat .

The change of party is another victory for the Texas GOP in South Texas, where heavily Hispanic counties that have long voted Democrats now have a redder streak. Republicans have made huge strides there in 2020 and hope to build on that momentum for next year’s election, when all members of the legislature and state officials are re-elected.

“Friends, something is going on in South Texas,” Guillen said. “Many of us realize that the values ​​of those in Washington, DC are not our values, are not the values ​​of most Texans – certainly not the values ​​of South Texas.”

Guillen, of Rio Grande City, made the announcement at a press conference in Floresville alongside Governor Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan.

Abbott said the change was indicative of the shift to the right along the border: “As the Democratic Party moves more to the left, it is abandoning the people of South Texas and their values. “

Guillen was already among the more moderate House Democrats; an analysis earlier this month by political science professor Mark Jones ranked him the least liberal of his colleagues. Guillen joined Republicans in passing a series of controversial bills this year, including a near-total state ban on abortion, unlicensed use of handguns, and a measure banning student-athletes. transgender people to participate in sports teams aligned with their gender identity.

“After years of voting to protect the Second Amendment, after years of voting to protect unborn children and against tax increases and to secure the border, I now look forward to not having to break with my party to do it, ”he said. .

The district has turned redder in recent years, and new state redistribution maps would further strengthen the GOP’s grip there. The District of Guillen voted for former President Donald Trump by roughly 13 percentage points in 2020; the new card, which will come into effect in next year’s elections, barring legal action, would bring that gap to 25 points.

The Associated Republicans of Texas, a GOP political group, announced over the summer that it would target six Democratic seats in next year’s election, including Guillen’s post in District 31. Yet he won last year by 17 percentage points.

The district includes Starr County, which saw the biggest variation in the GOP in a blue county in the country in 2020. Former President Donald Trump lost 60 percentage points there in 2016, but narrowed that gap to 5 points. four years later.

After the redistribution, the seat now includes neighboring Zapata County, which Democrat Hillary Clinton won by 33 points in 2016. It turned red last year.

Guillen’s change brings the Republican majority in the House to 85, after Republican John Lujan won a seat in the San Antonio area in a special election earlier this month. He will be sworn in on Tuesday.

State Representative Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie and leader of the House Democratic Caucus, attributed Guillen’s change of party on Monday to an unfavorable redistribution cycle. Instead of choosing to fight the Republicans who redesigned the cards, Turner said, “he chose to join them.”

“Representative. Guillen probably doesn’t believe the Republican arguments he’s repeating today, but he thinks they could help him get re-elected,” he said in a statement.

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