Texas state Rep. Ryan Guillen, a longtime Democrat, dealt a major blow to the Democrat Party by registering with the GOP.
In an announcement, alongside Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, Guillen said, “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.”
The businessman represents House District 31 including Rio Grande City in South Texas.
The move comes during a time when the Biden administration has all but fully opened the southern border. Remaining relevant to the issues that plague Guillen’s jurisdiction, “Opening our border has disastrous consequences for those of us who live in South Texas,” said Guillen.
The GOP is attempting to embolden its influence in South Texas, a region where Joe Biden underperformed in 2020, however, the party switch doesn’t surprise many. According to rankings from Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, Guillen is the least liberal State House Democrat. Moreover, “Everybody has known that Ryan Guillen is really a Republican who is attached to the wrong label,” added Gov. Abbott at the press conference.
As Republicans welcome the new found glory, Democrats accuse Guillen of wilting to the GOP after his district was redrawn. State Rep. Chris Turner, the head of the House Democratic Caucus, stated, “Usually, people in Ryan’s position would choose to fight.” The strong words come on the heels of Guillen’s district being redrawn from one that leaned Republican to one that is now solidly red. Soliciting more criticism for changing parties, “Instead, he has chosen to join them,” said Turner.
Despite Donald Trump winning Guillen’s district by a wide margin, Guillen managed to get re-elected as a Democrat in 2020. In partial contribution to Guillen’s re-election effort, he was one of seven House Democrats that voted in support of constitutional carry. In addition, Guillen is the only state Democrat that voted for a bill banning transgender athletes from participating on teams that match their gender identity.
Although Democrats accuse Guillen of being a coward, Guillen has his own reasons for why he crossed over the political aisle. “After years of voting against tax increases, in favor of protecting Texas families, and in favor of border security funding, I have found that my core beliefs align with the Republican Party,” said Guillen.
Defining himself as a South Texan with conservative values, “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,” added Guillen. In the closing paragraph of his statement, Guillen blasted the Democrat Party for being out of touch with his constituents stating, “The national Democrat Party is increasingly putting themselves in direct opposition to our values.”
As the 2022 midterm elections approach, Guillen is preparing to survive against his first Republican primary opponent and Navy veteran Mike Monreal. Prior to Guillen, J.M. Lozano was the last Democrat to switch parties to the GOP in 2012. Time will tell if the red wave momentum will result in the GOP gaining the majority control of Congress next year.