ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The congressman who recently apologized to his constituents after a nude photo of him began circulating on social media last week will not be seeking re-election. Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright tells CBS 11 News that he will be running in the GOP primary for the seat held by Barton.
In a statement released today, 6th District Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis) thanked his constituents for their support and said, “I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election in 2018.”
The decision comes after Arlington Republican activist, Kelly Canon, this week revealed sexually suggestive private Facebook messages she says the lawmaker sent four and five years ago.
Barton’s statement did not reference recent news surrounding the social media storm about his personal life and activities. The statement said, in part, –
“As a young Congressman, my slogan was “listening to you in Texas, working for you in Washington.” For me that was never just a saying, but a commitment – a way of life. Over the last thirty three years, I have held thousands of public meetings and visited with so many great people in Texas on issues important to them. In Washington, I have voted over 20,000 times on the House Floor to hopefully make life a little better for the people in the 6th District.”
Barton, who was considered a fixture in the Sixth Congressional District that includes Ellis and parts of Tarrant County, was first elected in 1984.
His spokeswoman said last Wednesday that Barton would not step down and that he had filed to run for his 18th term in office.
In the statement released today, Barton said, “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 it is time to step aside and let there be a new voice. ”
CBS Political Reporter Jack Fink spoke with Ron Wright on Thursday and the current tax assessor confirmed that he would be running for Barton’s seat. Three other Democrats, Jana Lynne Sanchez, Levii Shocklee, and Ruby Faye Woolridge, who lost to Barton in 2016, have also filed to run in the seat.
The Texas Democratic Party released a statement today that said, “We’re thankful that Representative Barton chose to not seek re-election after reports of his deeply inappropriate actions.”
It is not certain if new revelations may have played a role in the Barton decision. During an interview Wednesday regarding suggestive Facebook messages received from Barton, Canon said, “I went ‘wow.’ But I’m thinking, ‘that’s just Joe,’ because everybody always says that’s just Joe.”
In a message on June 13, 2012, that was sent after midnight, Barton asks, “So that means u r wearing a tank top only.. and no panties? Right now?”
Canon said, “Ok, that’s enough. You know my attire! Good night…”
Barton said, “Answer me miss evasive and then u can ask me if u wish waiting…”
In a message dated October 2, 2013, Barton told Canon, “Men are men.. and u r definitely a sexy woman.”
Canon replied, “All the good ones are married…”
Barton said, “I don’t know about good.. but I am married.”
Canon answered, ‘Well, that means you’re one of the “good” ones, then! with a smiley face.
Barton said, “thank u”
Canon said, “just calling em as I see em!”
Barton responded, “But.. I am not thinking good thoughts at this moment.. blush”
Canon said she came forward for a reason: “I hope it will lead to others coming forward because I can’t believe I’m the only one. But if I am, it’s kind of weird. But if I’m not the only one, I want them to come forward too. I could have done this anonymously, but I didn’t.”
Barton’s spokeswoman didn’t return our call seeking comment. But the congressman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he did have the exchange with Canon, but nothing more.
Canon says she never had any relationship with Barton.
When asked what she wants Barton to do, Canon replied, “Step down, resign, not run again. That’s my message to him as strongly as I can make it.”
Regarding the nude photo circulating on social media, Barton said it was taken during a consensual sexual relationship he had with another woman and while he was separated from his wife.
Some consider the photo’s publicity an act of revenge porn and Barton has said the Capitol Police Department is investigating.
On Wednesday afternoon, Republican State Senator Konni Burton of Fort Worth issued a statement calling on Barton to resign.
A day earlier, Tarrant County GOP Cbair Tim O’Hare urged Barton to step down by the end of the year.
Also Wednesday, Ellis County GOP Chair Randy Bellomy issued a statement that said in part, Barton’s “lifestyle is inconsistent with Republican ideals, and he has brought disgrace not only to Ellis County and the 6th Congressional District, but also to the people of Texas and this great nation.”
Republican Jake Ellzey of Midlothian, who has served on the Texas Veterans Commission, has filed to run for the seat Barton has held since 1985.
Canon says she attended a meeting with other constituents Monday night in which Barton apologized for the photo.
Canon says many in the room told him to resign, but that Barton said he wanted to run for one more term so he could redeem his name.