State Senator Kevin Eltife, who often was the conscience of the chamber’s Republican majority, has told his hometown paper that he is not seeking re-election in 2016.

“After 23 years, I have to honestly say I need to take a step back, spend more time with my family and friends and recharge my batteries,” Eltife said during an Editorial Board meeting with the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “I will continue to be involved and volunteer at the local and state level to try to help others.”

Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, are hard-working, well-intentioned people who sacrifice time from their families and lives to try to make Texans’ lives better, he said.

“I’m going to stay plugged in,” he said. “I want to make sure northeast Texas voices are heard, and I don’t have to be in public office to do that.”

State Representative David Simpson, a libertarian Republican, quickly jumped into the race Sunday morning with this statement:

“My family and I have spent much time praying and considering what we should do in 2016. Advancing liberty and promoting prosperity in Texas will take conservative leaders who are ready to tell the truth. We are excited to announce our campaign for Senate District 1 and intend to officially launch our efforts on June 22.” stated Simpson.

UPDATE: Representative Bryan Hughes is entering the race as well:

After a lot of prayer and counsel from family and friends, today I’m announcing my candidacy for the Texas Senate.  I’ve had the privilege of representing much of East Texas already in the House, and I’m looking forward to visiting with old friends and meeting new ones all across this corner of Texas.  In the House I’ve gained a reputation as a conservative, independent voice for East Texas, and I want to continue that work in the Texas Senate.

Hughes’ release includes endorsements from Attorney General Ken Paxton and social conservative leaders