Facing a rising Republican tide in South Texas and a growing gap between himself and the national Democratic Party, Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City) announced he was switching parties.

“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 Democratic Party of today,” Guillen said in a statement. “I have found that my core beliefs align with the Republican Party.” According to Rice Univ.’s Mark Jones, Guillen was the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus during the 2021 legislative session.

Combined with Rep.-elect John Lujan’s (R-San Antonio) recent special election victory, House Republicans have increased their majority to 85-65.

Guillen was first elected in 2003 after ousting then-Rep. Ignacio Salinas Jr. (D-San Diego) in the primary and has been re-elected nine times, mostly unopposed. His lone primary challenger has been Rio Grande City attorney and District Judge Ana Lisa Garza, who received 45% of the vote in the 2018 primary despite Guillen’s spending nearly $1M.  She raised nearly $200K for the race, about a fourth of which were unusual in-kind contributions.

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