Congressional representative Joe Barton, who has been serving in Congress since 1984, announced on Thursday that he will retire from Congress.
"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," he said.
He continued, "I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection in 2018. To the people of the 6th District, thank you for your support and friendship."
The announcement comes after what has been a very difficult week for the Texas Congressman. In fact, the decision came after a nude photo of Barton appeared on social media. Rather than face the continued embarrassment and family hardship of dealing with the photo, Barton thought it best to announce his retirement.
Interestingly, Barton told the Dallas News that he still believes he can win reelection. However, "it would be a nasty campaign, a difficult campaign for my family." He is also facing pressure from local Republicans, who both want him to retire and who are filing papers to run against him.
This will have the impact of creating a very competitive race to fill his vacant seat. According to the Texas Tribune, there are currently two local Republicans who are eyeing the former congressman's seat. The first is Monte Mitchell, and the second is Navy pilot Jake Ellzey, who entered the race in recent days. The Texas Tribune also found out on Thursday that Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright, a former Barton staffer, will also be running for the seat as a third candidate.
According to the New York Daily, Barton exchanged Facebook message of an explicit nature with a woman while he was still married to his wife. Arlington resident Kelly Canon apparently frequently chatted with Barton over Facebook messenger in 2012 and 2013. The content of their conversations was often political, but Canon remarked that the congressman took things "a step too far."
"He was very fascinated with my attire, to the point of being inappropriate," remarked Cannon, who shared details of her conversation with the congressman.
Barton has publicly apologized for the inappropriate behavior and photo.
The scandal surrounding Barton comes as Washington deals with a number of sexual misconduct claims against politicians. Democratic Representative John Conyers recently stepped down from his ranking House Judiciary Committee seat after it came to public light that an ex-staffer was accusing him of sexual misconduct.