Another Democrat switches parties in Texas, this time a sheriff

Latest defection comes after several Democratic elected officials switched parties last year, including judges.

Published: December 21, 2022 5:35pm

Updated: December 22, 2022 12:13am

(The Center Square) -

Another Democratic elected official in Texas has switched to the Republican Party – Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva.

The sheriff announced he switched parties on Wednesday, saying, “I look forward to continuing the strong tradition of excellent law enforcement in Karnes County, which requires us to come together for a common cause and seek out leaders of integrity and merit.”

Of the announcement, Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi said, “I am proud to welcome Sheriff Villanueva to the Republican Party. As Democrats increasingly abandon and cripple law enforcement, it is no wonder more people are turning to the Republican party.”

Villanueva switching parties comes after several Democratic elected officials switched parties last year, including the judges of Terrell and Presidio counties in west Texas and state Rep. Ryan Guillen, in House District 31.

Both Terrell and Presidio counties have declared an invasion at the southern border. Karnes County, which is located southeast of San Antonio and west of Victoria, has yet to do so.

Villanueva, who is serving in his third term as sheriff, was first elected in 2013, after serving as a constable since 2009. Since he began his law enforcement career in the county in 1993, he’s built a track record of making several high-profile arrests. They include a serial arsonist responsible for over 50 fires, an escaped inmate, multiple murderers, burglars in a serious home invasion case, a local police officer who was selling narcotics, among others.

Villanueva switching parties comes after Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez, a Democrat, told The Center Square that the Democratic Party no longer represents his and South Texas values.

“The Democratic Party doesn’t represent us,” he said, and is out of touch with the struggles of his community where he and his deputies are daily combating drug cartel and gang activity stemming from the southern border.

Villanueva switching parties also comes after a recent poll found that more Hispanic Texans say the Democratic Party doesn’t represent their values, and after another found that U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, R-TX, had a higher favorability rating among Hispanics than U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, did.

Flores was elected to Congress during a special election in March and lost her reelection bid in the general election in a different district in south Texas in November.

Newly elected Republican Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz, now representing a new district in south Texas, also maintains the Democrat Party “has become woke, pushing down their cultural radicalism,” which she says “is an insult to us, quite frankly, and just one of the many reasons why the people who were once with the Democrat Party are now walking away.

"The people in South Texas want a secure border. We believe in law and order, and that's where the Democrat Party goes wrong," she added. "They think that Hispanics want an open border and that just simply is not true. The Hispanics here, the people, South Texas want a safe and secure system."

After losing statewide office in the midterm elections in November, Texas Democratic Party leaders issued a statement, saying, “We won’t beat around the bush: at the statewide level, this was a tough cycle,” but vowed to “continue to make gains in cities and counties across the state” to build “our Democratic base over time until we win at the statewide level.”

They also referred to Texas Republicans as “extremists” and vowed to “do everything in our power in the coming years to blunt the blows of these inevitable Republican assaults” and “put an end to their reign of terror.”

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