TX Congressman Joe Barton won't seek re-election after sexting photo goes viral

By: Robert W. Gee, Austin American-Statesman

Updated:

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, said Thursday he will not seek re-election, after a sexual image of himself he shared was made public last week.

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North Texas Republicans called for Barton to drop out of the race this week, following new revelations, published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Tuesday, that he sent private messages with sexual overtones to a female Republican activist while he was married.

“I am very proud of my public record and the many accomplishments of my office. It has been a tremendous honor to represent the 6th District of Texas for over three decades, but now is time to step aside and let there be a new voice,” he said in a statement.

Barton has publicly apologized for what he has said were consensual relationships with multiple women while he was separated from his second wife. Their marriage ended in 2015.

“I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down,” he said in a statement last week.

Barton, who represents a conservative North Texas district, was first elected to Congress in 1984, making him the longest-serving member of Congress from Texas.

On Wednesday, tea party-aligned state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, urged Barton to drop out of the 2018 race. On Thursday morning, before Barton made his announcement, state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, urged him to step aside. Burton and Birdwell represent areas also represented by Barton.

“The conduct of Congressman Joe Barton that has been confirmed — along with new revelations coming to light — is simply unbecoming of representing these counties, citizens and families in the U.S. Congress,” Birdwell said.

In addition, Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Tim O’Hare had called on Barton to not seek re-election.

Jake Ellzey, a retired Navy combat pilot and member of the Texas Veterans Commission, filed paperwork Tuesday to run as a Republican for Barton’s seat.

Barton is the fifth Republican member of Congress from Texas to announce he’s not seeking re-election. They include U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, who represents parts of Travis and Hays counties.

Two Democrats are not running for re-election, including Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, who is running for the U.S. Senate occupied by Republican Ted Cruz.

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