On Thursday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) announced that he will not seek reelection in 2018. His announcement followed a series of reports that he had send objectionable texts and nude photos to several women. Barton is the ninth most-senior member of the House of Representatives. He told The Dallas Morning News, “There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside.” Recently, Texas Republicans had called on him to step aside.
Recently, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had reported on text messages that Barton had once sent a female Republican activist of Arlington, Texas. He was married at the time. This was followed days later after an anonymous Twitter user posted a nude selfie Barton had sent to a former girlfriend.
Less than a month ago, Barton had announced plans to run for reelection.
The 68-year-old Barton is one of the most conservative members of the House. He began his tenure in 1985, representing the Dallas suburbs. In a Dallas Morning New profile titled "Why Rep. Joe Barton sticks around as other Texans kiss Congress goodbye,” Barton told the paper, “I’m the odd duck who didn’t quit.” Barton referenced the retirement of several Texan lawmakers when he said: “Shows how much sense I have.”
In a reelection announcement in early November, Barton said “Much work remains in Washington and I hope to carry on the torch for the 6th District.” He said, "I look forward to the upcoming primary election in Texas.”
Barton's district is likely to remain in Republican hands. He was previously the chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee and vocal about energy policy. He is a member of the House Freedom Caucus. A climate change skeptic, he infuriated the Obama administration in 2010 for what he called a “shakedown” of BP after its massive Gulf of Mexico spill. Since 1984, Barton has never earned less than 56 percent of the vote in district and has earned more than 60 percent in 13 of his 17 elections.
On Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended Barton over the nude photo of the congressman that appeared online. Barton suggested that Carlson was the victim and faced unfair attacks from The Washington Post. Carlson said that the photo in question was sent during a consensual relationship between the congressman and his female companion. “So who's the victim here?” Carlson asked. “If you guessed the 68-year-old man whose five grandchildren can now find naked pictures of him online, you obviously haven't been reading The Washington Post lately.”
Carlson said the Washington Post tried to shame the congressman over his “secret sex life.” The newspaper, said Carlson, was on a “witch hunt.” Carlson argued that Barton's girlfriend may have engaged in a form of revenge porn.