The Pendulum of Jason Villalba’s Changing Policy Positions

Jason Villalba’s constituents must have serious whiplash attempting to follow the constant position-swings of their state representative.

Following the regular legislative session in May 2017, in collaboration with Texas Right to Life, Texas Scorecard asked readers to submit their picks for best and worst legislators in the first installment of the Citizen’s Choice Best and Worst List 2017. Jason Villalba’s buffoonish and dramatic political swings secured him a spot on the list, along with the appropriate nickname, “the rodeo clown.”

Villalba has a habit of loudly taking bad stance after bad stance on hot-button political issues, clumsily and quickly reversing his position after citizens hold him accountable, then ultimately voting for his original liberal position.

Obamacare Expansion

Villalba came out for Obamacare just a week after taking office as the Republican State Representative for House District 114. Villalba appeared at a forum with State Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Democrat from a neighboring district, at a forum where he boldly proclaimed that the GOP would “soften” on Obamacare repeal, and that the legislature should go ahead and set up Obamacare exchanges in Texas.

Supporting President Obama’s eponymous legislative achievement is in direct conflict with the Republican Party’s widely-held stance, and Villalba’s new-found position (which he neglected to mention during his campaign in the Republican primary, of course) didn’t go over well with his conservative voters. After being challenged on the issue, Villalba immediately retracted his position claiming he was “ardently” opposed to Obamacare.  

But it didn’t take long for Villalba’s political policy pendulum to swing back the other way, as he voted alongside Democrats to aid in Obamacare’s implementation in Texas that same session, and voted to study Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in 2015.  

Illegal Immigration

The political flip-flopping from Villalba on the issue of Obamacare is hardly unique for him.  Rather, it is his modus operandi. Take the issue of illegal immigration as another example.

During his original run for office, Villalba took the curious position of claiming he opposed illegal immigration, while simultaneously opposing efforts to curtail illegal immigration in Arizona, and campaigning against in-state tuition for illegal aliens, while also supporting the DREAM Act that would give amnesty to young illegal aliens.  

During the 2014 Republican Party of Texas Convention, Jason Villalba penned a letter in support of the “Texas Solution,” a pro-amnesty plank snuck into the party platform in 2012.

Despite his “powerful” endorsement, the “Texas Solution” was soundly defeated by the grassroots in a dramatic floor vote. The next year, Villalba reversed course and wrote an editorial praising Gov. Greg Abbott for his attempts to curb illegal immigration.

Privacy Legislation

Villalba is well-known as one of the only Republican members of the Texas House to openly oppose privacy legislation. Even on that issue, however, Villalba has placed himself on both sides.

During the 2015 legislative session, Villalba authored a bill to prevent cities from passing “non-discrimination ordinances,” which force businesses to allow men into women’s restrooms. The ink was barely dry on the bill by the time Villalba lunged to the opposite side of the issue after being slapped on the wrist by the liberal lobby group Texas Association of Business. After the reprimand, he abandoned his own bill and quickly disavowed any support for it.  

The next session, Villalba boisterously mocked similar privacy legislative proposals by conservative members, before voting and defending a hollow bathroom amendment by State Rep. Chris Paddie (R–Marshall). After that meaningless vote, Villalba swung a fourth time back to opposing the legislation, which Abbott made a priority during the special session.

Second Amendment

Even the constitutional right to bear arms isn’t safe from Jason Villalba’s political buffoonery. Like most Republicans, Villalba claims to support the Second Amendment. In reality, Villalba has proven he will make grandiose departures from the Republican mainstream in order to garner attention and affection from the Left. For example, during the debate on open-carry legislation in 2015, Villalba was the only Republican to vote with Democrats for an unsuccessful amendment to erode the bill by allowing cities to opt out.

After the tragic shooting in Sutherland Springs, Villalba wasted no time before joining liberals in their call for gun control, advocating for the creation of a Commission on Gun Violence to recommend “common sense gun control reforms” to the legislature. Villalba doubled down on his anti-Second Amendment stance, stating the following during a recent interview with NPR:

“I think what’s happened in America today is that everything’s become so polarized. Everything is within the black and the white. The solutions to complex problems never lies in the black and the white, it’s always in the gray.”

After three terms in the state legislature, Jason Villalba has seemingly taken every position on every issue. The March primary will show whether voters will hold Villalba accountable for his duplicity, as he defends his seat against a challenge from Dallas small business owner Lisa Luby Ryan.  

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Brandon Waltens

Brandon Waltens serves as the Capitol Bureau Chief for Empower Texans. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved to Empower Texans in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin.

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