Report: Texas Republicans Want Barton to Retire

GOP officials worried about effect on down-ballot races

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, is facing calls to step aside after a nude photo of him circulated on the Internet. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a nude photo of Rep. Joe Barton was circulated online last week, some of his fellow Texas Republicans want him to step aside.

Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Tim O’Hare told the Houston Chronicle he hadn’t talked to any party activists who wanted Barton to stay in office.

“All elected officials should be role models,” O’Hare said. “They should be held to a very high standard. Joe Barton’s conduct falls well below that standard.”

O’Hare also expressed concerns to the Chronicle that he was worried Barton’s scandal could damage down-ballot candidates in district.

Watch: What Goes Into House Retirement Decisions

“When this was first getting ready to break, he was telling people that he wasn’t planning to run again,” O’Hare said. “Now he seems to be weighing his options and apparently trying to do a poll to see how it’s going to hurt, and basically try to muscle up support among various leaders in the county.”

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, told the newspaper that Ryan spoke with Barton, but did not disclose the nature of their conversation.

“The two have talked but we’ll leave their conversations between the two of them,” Strong wrote in an email.

Though some Republicans are waiting to see how the story unfolds, Jake Ellezy, a retired Navy combat pilot, filed paperwork with the Republican Party of Texas to enter the primary.

Texas Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak said Barton would have to weigh the cost on his family and how another run could hurt them.

“I have lot of respect for Joe, so I don’t want this to come off as a catty comment, but sometimes these guys think they’re indispensable, and they’re not,” he said. “The system goes on, new people come in, new blood is a good thing.”

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