Tarrant County’s top tax man resigned from his position Thursday to run for Joe Barton’s seat in Congress.
The move by Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright makes for even more interest in what is expected to be a fierce, high-dollar fight for the 6th Congressional District seat.
The district includes most of Arlington and Mansfield and all of Ellis and Navarro counties.
On Thursday, Barton said he no longer will seek re-election. The decision came after the Star-Telegram reported Wednesday that the 68-year-old Barton sent private messages of a sexual nature to a constituent. A nude photo of Barton also appeared online the week prior.
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Wright’s resignation is significant because there are fewer than two weeks for candidates to file for the primary ballot in March, and prior to his decision the tax assessor collector race would not have been on the 2018 ballot.
Candidates for any position have until Dec. 11 to file.
He is the latest candidate to throw his hat into the ring for Barton’s seat, which he has held since 1985.
Another Republican, J.K. “Jake” Ellzey, a Texas Veterans Commission member who lives in Midlothian, also has filed to run for the post.
Several Democrats have filed, including Ruby Faye Woolridge of Arlington, who ran against Barton in 2016; Jana Lynne Sanchez, a public relations specialist from Arlington; Levii R. Shocklee of Arlington; and John W. Duncan.
Wright, who is Barton’s former chief of staff and district director, said he had no previous knowledge of Barton’s inappropriate behavior.
He wants to serve the community and help rebuild “faith and confidence” in public officials.
Wright said multiple area Republicans asked him to join the race after Barton’s nude photo and private messages with of a sexual nature drew national attention.
“He had a very distinguished time in office and he made some mistakes,” Wright said. “But this race is about the future — and restoring trust and confidence.
“I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram
The 2018 primary election is for March 6.
Wright’s unexpired term for tax assessor collector runs through 2020, which means that position is expected to be on the March primary ballot, local election officials and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said.
Wright previously served as an Arlington City Council member and mayor pro-tem before working in Barton’s office from 2000 to May 2011.
In 2011, he was named the county’s tax assessor-collector — and was later elected to a second term.
Last week, nude photos of Rep. Joe Barton were posted on Twitter without his permission. This video, from March 2017, shows Barton speaking at a Frost, Texas town hall about a potential revenge porn law. He is heard saying he voted against a bill because he thinks "that's a state issue not a federal issue." When one constituent begins yelling that Barton represents Texas first, he responds with an attempt to silence the man.YouTube/Bryan Stewart via Storyful