Texas Democrat Switches to Republican Party

State Rep. Ryan Guillen switches to GOP.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Longtime Democratic state Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City is switching parties as Republicans press to make new inroads in South Texas and after redistricting made his district much more favorable to the GOP, The Texas Tribune reports.
  • Guillen announced the switch on Monday morning at a news conference where he was joined by Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont.
  • “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 said.
  • “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 TEXAS TRIBUNE REPORTS:

Guillen’s decision to run for reelection under the GOP banner is a boon for Republicans who have been working to show new strength in South Texas after President Joe Biden underperformed there in 2020. The decision also comes after the GOP-led redistricting process turned Guillen’s district, already Republican-leaning, into a solidly red one.

The last state lawmaker to change parties was Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, in 2012. He was also a South Texas Democrat who made the decision to join the GOP after redistricting.

Guillen is already well known as an outlier in his caucus. He is the least liberal Democrat in the House, according to rankings from Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University.

“Everybody has known that Ryan Guillen is really a Republican who is attached to the wrong label,” Abbott said at the news conference. “Ryan, we’re glad you finally came out of the closet.”

Guillen was one of seven House Democrats who voted earlier this year to allow permitless carry of handguns. He was the only House Democrat to vote for the state’s new near-total ban on abortion. He stayed behind this summer when most House Democrats fled to Washington, D.C., in protest of Republicans’ priority elections bill. 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.