Rep. Guillen plans announcement with Abbott amid party switch rumors

Ryan Guillen

Longtime Democratic state Rep. Ryan Guillen will be holding a “special” announcement on Monday amid rumors that he is contemplating a switch to the Republican Party.

Guillen, representative for District 31 which encompasses Starr County, is scheduled to make an announcement Monday in Floresville where he will be joined by Gov. Greg Abbott and Speaker Dade Phelan, according to a news release from his campaign.

While they did not provide further details about the subject of his announcement, Starr County Republican Party Chair Claudia Alcazar said there have been rumors of Guillen’s switch since late August.

“I heard it from other people — Republicans — so I’m not surprised if that’s the announcement he’s going to make,” Alcazar said. “I’ve heard that he was flirting with it.”

Democrat Party Chair Hilda Gonzalez Garza said she had also heard the rumors.

“If he’s got that big announcement, I wouldn’t doubt it,” Gonzalez Garza said, noting that candidate filing for the 2022 primary elections begins Saturday.

If the rumors are true, Alcazar said the party would support him.

“We welcome him,” she said. “If he chooses to run as a Republican, as party chair we will support him, he is the candidate — 100%. Whatever he needs.”

Republicans in the Rio Grande Valley have become increasingly emboldened following a strong performance in the November 2020 presidential elections — a performance that many in the GOP have heralded as a political sea change in the historically Democratic South Texas, and that some Democrats have dismissed as an anomaly.

In Starr County, 47% of the voters cast their ballots for Donald J. Trump in the election, an impressive boost considering only 19% voted for him when he first ran for president in 2016.

From Rio Grande City, Guillen has deep roots in the community, which leads Alcazar to believe he could win reelection as a Republican.

“I think it’s possible, absolutely. I do,” she said. “Ryan’s from here, Ryan’s done a lot of good in the community, he’s got strong ties so if any community would elect him as a Republican, I believe it will be Starr.”