Congressman Joe Barton, a Republican who was elected 32 years ago to replace Phil Gramm in the U.S. House, announced today that he will not seek re-election next year. This followed revelations that he sent one woman a nude photo and video of himself and asked another in a Facebook chat whether she was wearing underwear. Both incidents occurred in 2012, when Barton was estranged from his wife, but they came to light beginning last week.
Barton made the retirement announcement in an interview with the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve always listened to people in Texas and worked for them in Washington, and I’ve been listening to a lot of people the last week in Texas,” he said. “There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th district in Washington, so I am not going to run for re-election.”
After the nude photo of Barton surfaced on the internet last week (the Washington Post reported that it was taken from a video of him masturbating), Barton apologized and said it had been sent to an adult woman with whom he was having a consensual affair. He also claimed that its release was potentially a case of revenge porn, which might have allowed him to preserve his political career. But on Tuesday another woman released Facebook chats in which Barton asked her whether she was wearing panties, and any chance of political survival vanished.
Jake Ellzey, a former Navy pilot from Midlothian, entered the race after the photos of Barton became public. There also has been a movement to draft Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright, a former Barton staffer, but he is 64 and may not want to run. On Tuesday, state senator Konni Burton touted Wright in a statement calling on Barton to drop his re-election bid. Now Burton and Senator Brian Birdwell have been mentioned as possible Republican candidates as well. Another name that’s been floated is Taya Kyle, widow of the late Navy Seal Chris Kyle.
Meanwhile, the field of Democratic candidates who have filed has grown and now includes Ruby Faye Woolridge, Jana Lynne Sanchez, and Levii R. Shocklee, all from Arlington. Still, the district’s voting history leans heavily Republican, making it unlikely that any Democrat can win.