On November 15, State Representative Ryan Guillen, who has been a Democrat since he was first elected to office in 2002, announced that he would be changing his party affiliation to Republican.
“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 announced in a statement.
Throughout his time in office, Guillen has been an outlier among his Democratic colleagues in the House.
The Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi commented on Guillen’s decision to switch parties:
“Rep. Guillen has been a friend for many years, and I am proud to welcome him to the Republican Party. I am confident Republicans in Austin and his constituents in the Rio Grande Valley will welcome him with open arms. Following this month’s Republican victories in Virginia and in Texas HD118, this is yet another example of how the increasing extremism of the Democratic Party has alienated Texans who care about smaller government, strong families, safe communities, and the protection of the unborn. Those people have a home in our party.”
Kitchen observed that Guillen’s rationale for switching parties was perhaps motivated by electoral self-preservation. Kitchen went into more details about changes that recent redistricting potentially had on Guillen’s decision to join the Republican fold:
One of the more notable outcomes of the new district boundaries due to the recently completed decennial redistricting process is the partisan shift of Guillen’s district, House District 31.
Its current disposition includes Atascosa, Brooks, Duval, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, La Salle, Live Oak, McMullen, Starr, and Willacy counties. In the 2020 election cycle, the district swung from voting 13 points in favor of Clinton in 2016 to voting 13 points in favor of former President Trump in 2020.
Kitchen added further statistical context as to why Guillen made a partisan switch: The district’s new boundaries exclude Atascosa and Willacy counties and instead pick up Karnes, Wilson, and Zapata counties, making it much more favorable to a would-be Republican candidate. In this district configuration, Trump would have won this district by 25 points.
As Dallas Express previously reported, there has been a marked shift among Tejano voters along the southern border regarding their voting behavior. There has been a measurable shift in border counties.
In 2020, Trump made significant gains in Starr County and even won Zapata County — a feat that has eluded Republicans for a century.
As this region of Texas becomes more competitive, partisan switching and tighter races may become the new norm.