State Rep. Guillen's Democrat-to-Republican Switch Just One More Example of Extraordinary Progress in South Texas


From someone who switched long ago, Welcome to the Republican Party, Rep. Guillen!

By Hector De Leon

All politics is local. That’s what state Rep. Ryan Guillen recognized when he announced his switch from Democrat to Republican this week.
 
For nearly two decades, Guillen, a conservative, has been a strong, effective representative for his constituents in South Texas.

During the just-completed 87th Legislature, he voted with Republicans more than 80% of the time.

And, by acknowledging the traditional Texas values of his constituents in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley – recognizing that those who continue to send him to Austin no longer align with the Democrat Party – he will continue to serve them well.

But Guillen’s story isn’t an outlier.

It’s the story of enduring support for conservative values within the Hispanic Community
– and the result of Republican outreach consistently focused on connecting with voters and the issues that impact their lives.
 
I know Guillen’s story well because I have lived it.

In 1984, I made the difficult decision to switch from Democrat to Republican, and I have never looked back.

I grew up in Travis County in the 1960s – when LBJ was president and everyone was a Democrat, especially in my community. If you were Hispanic, you were a Catholic and a Democrat. No questions asked.
 
But when I decided to step into the arena and run for public office, I was stunned to find that the Democratic Party I had believed in, supported, and worked for over the years, wouldn’t have me.
 
Yes, they wanted my vote – but they were not interested in my voice.
 
I had lived the American dream. I did not have a privileged background, but I pursued education as a building block to a successful future, being part of the first generation in my family to finish high school, and then I went on to college and eventually law school. I was working hard, raising my family, and wanted to serve my community.
 
The Democratic Party wanted to hand-pick its candidates. They didn’t want an independent voice.

They wanted someone they could control.

In contrast, I found the Republican Party welcome and open, giving me opportunities to lead, engage and serve.

To this day, I still serve in leadership with the Associated Republicans of Texas.
 
In time, I recognized that my core values more closely aligned with Republicans – good education, good jobs and a good quality of life. That is what the GOP ultimately offered me, and still offers the Hispanic Community today.
 
Many Democrats talk about demographics as destiny. They fail to acknowledge that many Hispanics are culturally conservative and their values more closely align with those of the GOP.
 
  • Republicans want to keep our economy strong by cutting regulations that stifle small business growth.
  • Republicans want to ensure that Oil & Gas production continues to create jobs and fuel the local economy.
  • Republicans want to invest in our classrooms to ensure student success – and reward our best teachers.
  • Republicans support law enforcement and want a strong, secure border that will stop criminals and drug cartels from coming into our state.
Put simply: The progressive policies of the left do not align with traditional Hispanic values.
 
The extraordinary gains Republicans have made in South Texas over the last few elections are not an anomaly. We have been hard at work, reaching out to voters throughout South Texas and across the state in traditionally Democrat strongholds.
 
Our message is simple: If you believe in the American dream and are willing to work hard to get it, the Republican Party is the place for you.
 
The quickest way to lose elections is to lose touch with the people you represent. Democrats are learning that the hard way. The days of one-party dominance in South Texas are long gone.

Rep. Guillen is just one more example of that. Neither party should take voters for granted.
 
Just as I was welcomed nearly four decades ago, I welcome Rep. Guillen to the Republican Party – and invite others to join us.

Hector De Leon is the founder & managing partner of De Leon & Washburn PC. He serves as Co-Chairman of the Associated Republicans of Texas.
 
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