Of course, perception can drive reality: If Latinos believe that Democrats take them for granted, they are more likely to vote for Republican candidates, according to analysis from Equis Research, a Washington-based firm that focuses on Latino voters across the country.
Mr. Guillen, who did not respond to several messages from The Times, has fiercely embraced his new party, appearing with Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas during his party switch announcement and welcoming an endorsement from Mr. Trump by enthusiastically recalling how his signs “covered South Texas” during the presidential election. (Four years after Hillary Clinton won the district by 13 percentage points, Mr. Trump won by the same margin in 2020.)
“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,” Mr. Guillen told reporters during his announcement. “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.”
But ideology may not have been the only driver of Mr. Guillen’s decision, which came after Republican-controlled redistricting turned his legislative district from a Republican-leaning district into one that would most likely be solidly red.
Mr. Guillen has brushed aside suggestions that he simply switched parties to stay in office, telling reporters that his 2020 victory as a Democrat showed his allegiance with voters in the district.
“I have found that my core beliefs align with the Republican Party,” he said. “I am confident that my switch today is the right decision.”
Mr. Abbott, for his part, portrayed Mr. Guillen’s flip as inevitable.
“It’s something that has been, candidly, the worst-kept secret in the Capitol,” he said. “Ryan, we’re glad you finally came out of the closet.”