After months of speculation, State Rep. David Simpson of Longview has officially cast his name in the ring for consideration as the next speaker of the House, challenging incumbent Joe Straus. And his first public supporter is State Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola.

Mr. Hughes had previously announced for the position, and been campaigning for it since early in the summer. But earlier today he announced that was dropping out in favor of “my friend David Simpson.”

“David is uniquely qualified to lead the House at this pivotal time in our history,” wrote Hughes in a press release. “David Simpson has earned his reputation as an eminently fair, highly principled, and hardworking legislator.”

Many Americans first learned about Mr. Simpson when he authored legislation to prohibit the aggresssive groping of airline passengers by the TSA.

Mr. Simpson filed his paperwork to be considered as a candidate an issued a brief statement: “For some time I have been prompted and encouraged to run for Speaker. After much prayer, consideration, and counsel, I made the decision to enter the race and filed the requisite paperwork.”

He said he is opposed to the “culture of ‘go along to get along’ politics, where members face intimidation and retribution should they disagree with a leadership decision, stifles representative government.”

The speaker’s team punished conservatives during redistricting, and e-mails unveiled by a national website find senior legislators and Straus staff speaking derisively of conservative activists. Record numbers of the speaker’s allies were defeated in the primary and general elections, leading observers to note that the closer one stood to Joe Straus, the bigger the electoral problem they faced from voters.

First elected to the Texas House in 2010, defeating a moderate Straus committee chairman, Mr. Simpson previously served as the mayor of Avinger.

Speaker Straus’ team clearly recognize they have a problem. In conversations over the last several weeks, Straus supporters have told fellow lawmakers that they recognize the speaker is “toxic” with the grassroots. One incumbent legislator told a colleague that the speaker didn’t want his “many supporters” to feel heat from the grassroots.

The announcement by the popular Mr. Simpson is sure to increase pressure on legislators to announce their intentions sooner than later.


UPDATE: David Simpson’s “open letter” to his colleagues in the Texas House.

Before sending his press release, Mr. Simpson sent a letter making the case for his candidacy to the House members. A .pdf version of the letter can be found here.

The text is reprinted here:

An Open Letter and Invitation
December 10, 2012

My fellow Representatives and Representatives-Elect,

For some time, I have been prompted and encouraged to run for Speaker. After much prayer, consideration, and counsel, I made the decision to enter the race and filed the requisite paperwork.

This is an invitation to transform the way the House is led and the spirit of its operations. I respect Speaker Straus as a fellow legislator who loves Texas and her people; however, we differ on the way the House should be led. And I am not alone in that opinion.

The culture of ‘go along to get along’ politics, where members face intimidation and retribution should they disagree with a leadership decision, stifles representative government.

This race centers on the principles by which we govern and serve the House. If given the responsibilities of this office, I will preside according to the first principles of integrity and I will honor the process.

The rules must be applied without disparity and not give way to the convenience of an individual political agenda. For some, the outcome justifies any means by which it is accomplished — even trampling the rights of others.

But, I believe that it is not enough to just do the right thing. We must do the right thing in the right way. We should enforce the rules for everyone without regard to party, personality, or seniority. Texas is blessed with a legislative process designed to help ensure limited government and minority rights. We should honor that tradition.

Furthermore, public trust in our government depends upon a transparent, accountable system. We should not require of others what we are unwilling to do ourselves. We should lead by example in things great and small and put substance over mere symbolism. Government of, by, and for the people should not seek to concentrate power but provide checks and balances that protect all.

This is a better way. I invite you to join me in transforming the operations of the House, honoring our oaths to our Constitutions and representing our constituents.

As Speaker this means I will treat all members with respect, and, through honoring the process of the House, give all opportunity to promote the ideas and legislation important to their districts and the state. I will endeavor to maintain good communication with members and their staff and assist in the legislative process. I will appoint members to committees and leadership positions based on knowledge, experience, skill, and desire — not partisanship or payback. I also will expect commitment to the golden rule, liberty, and the process.

My own policy views are no secret to you; I believe in and will always work for limited government and the protection of civil liberties. But, this does not necessitate a strong-arm approach to leadership. In fact, it requires the opposite.

We seek the “free government” espoused in the Preamble of our Texas Constitution. So as I earnestly advocate for fiscal responsibility, limited government, and liberty, understand that I do so by employing reason, leading by example, and maintaining a fair administration of the rules.

Iron sharpens iron; we forge the best policy through vigorous debate. Therefore, I will listen to and learn from those with whom I disagree or who stand in opposition to my leadership. At the same time, I will insist upon the House’s constitutional role, rights, and privileges.

We must seek solutions that make everyone better off and make tough choices to protect Texans and seek the higher ground of liberty and opportunity, which unites us.

I invite you to join me in transforming the way the House operates. Now is the time to put the principles of liberty and open government above the politics of intimidation. This is the decision that we as Representatives can make.

With these thoughts in mind, I respectfully request your consideration and prayers, and I ask for your support in the race for Speaker.

For Texas and Liberty,
David Simpson

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."


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