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Straus Needs 76 Votes to Hold Speaker Seat

State of Texas

When the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives gavel into session Tuesday, Republican Speaker Joe Straus will be looking to keep his seat as the top man; to do so he only needs a simple majority: 76 votes.

However, he does have a challenger: Republican David Simpson from Longview. It is only Simpson's second term as a representative, but the former businessman was also mayor of the City of Avinger in 1993.

Straus was first elected speaker of the Texas House in 2009; the year he gained the votes of the House Democratic Caucus and fellow Republicans to overthrow Tom Craddick as speaker, the first Republican to hold that post since the Reconstruction era.

Simpson initially said in a statement that he didn't want to challenge Straus, but he received encouragement from fellow conservatives to go for the position.

Political analyst Bill Miller said Simpson can try, but he doesn't think the representative will be successful.

“I think he's maybe not in sync with the majority of members, and secondly, not enough members know him well,” said Miller.

If Miller is right, then Straus' appointment will directly benefit San Antonio because Straus' district lies in the Alamo City.

Miller said the position of speaker is an added benefit to local districts because it influences everything from a traffic light that needs to be installed to nominations of people to boards or commissions.

“Historically, whether it's the president of the United States and his home state, or the speaker and his hometown, they always benefit,” he said. “They get the benefit of the break and they should and they do."

Rep. Mike Villarreall, who is a Democrat but a fellow San Antonian, said he will back Straus.

Villarreal’s office said the San Antonio representative believes Straus wants to make decisions that will serve the long-term interests of Texas, and that he's a "fair man."

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.