Jim Barnes: Mr. Conservative Constitutionalist

“When someone wants to make sure the job gets done, they call me,” says Jim Barnes.

Jim Barnes’ first impression of Texas was in 1965, but the weather is what kept him returning throughout the years.

A physics graduate from Michigan State University, Barnes was commissioned by the college’s ROTC program for navigator training with the United States Air Force at James Connelly AFB in Waco. After graduating in 1965, he was called back to Texas to work on B-52s until 1970. He would continue to find himself returning to Texas to work along the Texas/Mexico border in the automotive industry as an engineer, supervisor, and manager.

Barnes is a father of three boys — Chuck, Dennis, and Jon — who all followed their father’s footsteps and are retired military.

When offered a position in the automotive industry as a Supplier Quality Manager in Matamoros, Mexico, he accepted and moved to Brownsville in 2002 where he would commute to Mexico every day.

In 2005, Barnes retired and the Michigan native decided to make the Rio Grande Valley his home. “I liked the people, the weather, the food (chuckles)…it’s a little different from the Mexican food they serve you up north,” he recalls.

As a retired Air Force veteran with 191 combat missions over South East Asia, 30 air medals, and a distinguished Flying Cross, Barnes is no stranger to a life of service.

His first serious encounter with the Republican Party was in 1978 when he attended the state convention as an alternate delegate during the crucial gubernatorial race where William Clements became the first Republican governor in Texas in over 100 years.

It wasn’t until 2006 when the Republicans lost both the U.S. House and Senate in D.C. that Barnes wished to be more involved and went in search of the GOP office in Brownsville. To his dismay, he found nothing.

“Phones were on the floor, no signs for office hours…literally no signs of life…it’s like the Republican Party dried up and moved away; it was as if the Republican Party was over.”

In 2006, he decided to move to McAllen permanently, become more pro-active in politics, and join the Hidalgo GOP.

Since then he has served as Precinct Chair, block walker, phone banker, Texas state delegate, election judge, editor-in-chief of the Valley Conservative Newsletter and Calendar, chair of various committees in the elections department and joint GOP/TEA Party committees. He has also testified several times at the Texas Capitol in committee hearings.

The role he holds most dearly, however, is his current position as President of the McAllen/Hidalgo County Tea Party Association.

He and his wife, Elizabeth Barnes who serves as Secretary, are a delightful treat for any observer as they both passionately direct their efforts in unison towards the conservative movement in the RGV. Barnes continuously engages with local activists across the Rio Grande Valley via email and monthly meetings held at the Citrus Valley RV Park in McAllen, Texas.

In addition, Barnes is involved with the Republican Party of Texas, Tea Party Patriots, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Barnes is a particularly strong advocate for three items on the party platform: smaller government, lower taxes, and less regulations. Supplementing these are other causes critically important to him including election integrity, Veterans Administration, gun rights, and immigration.

The motivation behind his political efforts?

“I would like to see a shift towards the conservative values that guarantee the further existence of the republic. That includes an honest approach to the voters in the Rio Grande Valley.”

In his downtime, Barnes especially enjoys a day at the shooting range with fellow second amendment patriots, as he is a proud NRA Firearms Instructor and a competitive shooter.

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Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Empower Texans. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.

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