Rep. Joe Barton will not run for re-election in 2018

J. Scott Applewhite

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News about the relationship he had with another woman that became public recently, Barton said he always listens to people of Texas. 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 told the newspaper he believed he could win reelection but that he didn't want to put his family through the ordeal of what he believed would be "a nasty campaign".

Barton is retiring as politicians on Capitol Hill are facing new scrutiny for sexual harassment and misconduct.

Barton's spokeswoman didn't return our call seeking comment.

Barton's troubles began after a Twitter user posted late last week- and later deleted - a photo of a man posing naked (or mostly naked) that resembled the 68-year-old Barton. A video of the lawmaker masturbating also turned up online for a short period of time before it was removed.

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women", Barton said in a statement Wednesday. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended", Barton said in a statement November 22. "I am sorry that I let my constituents down". As cringeworthy as it might make us feel, we might even need to come to the defense of those who hold oppositional and unsavory political and social beliefs, if we conclude in this instance they aren't in the wrong.

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.

The Post reported the woman, who is not married, spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy.

"I am very proud of my public record and the many accomplishments of my office", Barton's statement said. Prosecutors charged her with "publishing intimate material". He also said that Capitol Police had informed him that they were opening an inquiry. Both himself and the woman were consenting adults in a relationship-he isn't a predator. Still, Republicans in Texas already suggested he shouldn't run again. The transcripts aren't complete (some of Canon's responses aren't included, for example), but the excerpts published show the representative repeatedly trying to sexualize the conversation while she tries to change the subject.

"He took it a step too far on rare occasions", Canon told the news outlet. But if I'm not the only one, I want them to come forward too.

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?" Barton answered, adding: "Right now?" You know my attire! "Good night." Canon wrote.

Barton said, "Answer me miss evasive and then u can ask me if u wish waiting..." "And then u can aske me".

Barton, who has served in the House since 1985, on Wednesday would only confirm to the Star-Telegram that the back and forth messages took place. "He actually thinks he can win", Canon said of Barton's now-ended re-election bid.

In a year when women are finally being heard and believed about the assault and harassment they've experienced at men's hands, we must commit ourselves to calling out and holding accountable those who harm others and try to fix our broken culture.

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