FORT WORTH (CBS11) – A Republican is challenging U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis nearly one week after the veteran lawmaker apologized for a nude photo of him that surfaced on social media.
This as Tarrant County GOP Chairman Tim O’Hare called on Barton to resign by the end of the year.
“It is time for you to step down. It is time for you to step aside. You being on the ballot will hurt the Republican Party.”
Barton, who has been in Congress since 1985, apologized to his constituents last week for the nude photo, and said in a statement that a woman he had a consensual sexual relationship with had previously threatened to share the photo publicly.
He said Capitol Police are investigating.
But O’Hare says, “Regardless of who released it, he took it. It is conduct unbecoming of an elected official. It is conduct unbecoming of a gentleman.”
O’Hare says other Republican activists and elected officials in Tarrant County agree with him.
Barton’s office and spokeswoman didn’t return our calls Tuesday.
But Barton’s spokeswoman has previously said he won’t be stepping down and will run for re-election.
But he has not filed his paperwork to run again as of this writing according to the Texas Republican Party.
On Tuesday morning, Jake Ellzey, who serves on the Texas Veterans Commission, filed to run as a Republican for Barton’s seat.
During an interview Tuesday afternoon, Ellzey said, “I’m running because I think it’s time for new leadership and new blood in Congress. I think the Republic functions stronger when career politicians are not in Washington, D.C. and Joe Barton has been there for a very long time.”
Ellzey says his top priorities are immigration, the debt, rebuilding defense, and caring for veterans.
He says he’s running even if Barton decides to run for re-election.
“Whether he remains on the ballot or not is no consequence to me. I’m running. I think whether you’re in military service or public service there’s a standard that needs to be upheld and if it’s fallen someone else has to come and pick it up and run with it.”
Three Democrats have already filed paperwork to run in the March primary: Ruby Faye Woolridge, who ran in 2016, Jana Lynne Sanchez, and Levii Shocklee.
When asked if he’s concerned that a Democrat would win if Barton is on the ballot, O’Hare said, “Very. I think this is the kind of thing Independents would vote for the Democrat. I think a lot of Republicans would not cast a vote for Mr. Barton in that race.”
Navarro County GOP Chair Christopher Baldwin declined comment on the situation.
Ellis County GOP Chair Randy Bellomy said he will issue a statement later this week.
Johnson County GOP Chair Robin Wilson didn’t return a call seeking comment.