U.S. House of Representatives
GOP Congressman Joe Barton, the longest-serving member of the Texas congressional delegation, has decided not to seek re-election in 2018
. This Thursday announcement comes shortly after his history of sexually explicit conduct with women came to light.
It began with a dick pic. Okay, so texting a dick pic to someone you're having a consensual sexual relationship is completely fine (I mean, aside from the fact that literally no one
wants to see a photo of your penis, even if they are sleeping with you. Just a reminder, men of the world). Yes, it's irresponsible for an elected official like Barton to send a photo of his genitals and sexually explicit texts
to a woman who may later use it to publicly embarrass him, but it's not criminal.
What crosses the line, however, is when that man sends those kind of messages to women who are clearly are not interested and openly uncomfortable with it.
On Wednesday, Republican Kelly Canon from Ennis — Barton's Congressional district — shared screenshots of Facebook messages she'd received from Barton in 2012 and 2013 that appeared to toe that line.
"Wanna tell me what ur wearing or not wearing tonight miss sweet dreams," Barton messaged Canon just before midnight in June 2012. Before this, Canon told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
, she and Barton, who was married at the time, often had professional chats about politics over Facebook.
Her reply: "LOL! I'm still in my "regular" clothes!"
"Tell me what else u r wearing..if anything," he continued. She didn't. "So..that means u r wearing a tank top only..and no panties?"
"Okay thats enough. You know my attire! Good night," Canon wrote back.
"Answer me miss evasive. And then u can ask me. If u wish," Barton responded. (She didn't).
On other occasions, Barton called her a "sexy woman," said he wasn't "thinking good thoughts" when messaging her, and said "u r soft n curvy..i like that."
In a Wednesday interview with CBS DFW
, Canon said these messages were unwanted, and she never had any relationship with Barton.
“I went, 'wow,'" Canon said, referring to when she received these explicit messages. "But I’m thinking that’s just Joe because everybody always says that’s just Joe.”
Barton confirmed that he did send these messages to Canon, but hasn't commented further on the exchange.
Canon, who's active in Ennis' Republican party, said Wednesday that there's only one thing she believes Barton can do at this point. "Step down, resign, not run again. That’s my message to him as strongly as I can make it," she said.
She wasn't alone. GOP county chairs in Barton's district have asked to not run for office again, and Republican state Senator Konni Burton of Fort Worth has called on him to resign.
“We must hold public officials to a high standard and recent publicized incidents demonstrate those standards were not met," Burton said in a Wednesday statement.
Now, after a week of relative silence, Barton appears to agree.
"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 told the Dallas Morning-News Thursday
. "...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."