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Simpson files for speaker, Hughes offers endorsement

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While the cast of characters is set for this legislative session, leadership roles are still up in the air.

Monday morning, Rep. David Simpson, a Tea Party favorite, announced he is challenging the current Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus.

Straus has been criticized by some of the more conservative members of Republican Party for being too moderate. Monday, Simpson said, “I respect Speaker Straus as a fellow legislator; however, we differ on the way that the House should be led. And I am not alone in that opinion."

"Texans are very conservative by and large and they want a House Speaker that represents them," Michael Sullivan with Texans for Fiscal Responsibility said.

Joe Straus has served as House Speaker since 2009, but in an election cycle marked by upsets, it is an opportune time for a Tea Party challenger to enter the race.

"Simpson's support is not from inside the house it is from outside the house it is from all the interest groups outside the house," Harvey Kronberg with the Quorum Report said.

This is Simpson's second term in the House. Last legislative session he made his mark as a freshman with his controversial Transportation Security Administration anti-groping legislation. The mandate would have made it illegal for TSA agents to perform pat downs unless they had probable cause.

While the piece of legislation never made its way on the books, it made a mark with some conservatives.

"In his one term in the legislature, he put forward legislation that literally changed the way that a federal agency does business, most Congressmen can't achieve that by his filing the TSA groping bill it upset the apple cart nationwide," Sullivan said.

While he may play to the ideals of the Tea Party, Kronberg is skeptical of his success.

"For David Simpson this is at least an opportunistic moment, but it is also a moment of principal and there no downside for him per se," he said.

While Simpson may run on ideals, experts say Straus is expected to have overwhelming Republican support.

"If I had to handicap it today I would say that Dave Simpson can break 15 votes and I have been doing this for 23 years. If somehow or another David Simpson would get to 76 votes it would be they story of the year,” Kronberg said.

Simpson says since he filed, a number of his colleagues has offered their support. Among them is Rep. Brian Hughes. Hughes announced over the summer that he intended to challenge Straus for the seat. However, he announced he would support Simpson instead.

In a statement, Hughes said, "For some months now I have been traveling the state and visiting with my fellow State Representatives, with candidates, and with our employers--the people of Texas.

After countless meetings and conversations, I am more convinced than ever that we need new leadership in the Texas House. I am also convinced that the strongest candidate to bring in that new leadership is David Simpson."

YNN reached out to Straus and his staff first thing this morning, but did not get a response.

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