After everything that’s happened over the last two weeks, Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton hopes to remain the manager of the Republican team in the annual Congressional Baseball Game.
“That is my intention,” Barton said. “Obviously, it’s my last year.”
A nude photo of Barton was posted on social media last month, causing the congressman to re-evaluate whether he would run again. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Wednesday published suggestive text messages Barton exchanged with a woman while he was still married. And on Thursday, a third woman came forward, telling radio station WBAP that she had an affair with Barton. Some local Republicans were pressuring him to retire.
He announced Thursday this would be his final term.
Republicans lawmakers square off against Democrats for charity each June in the annual baseball game at Nationals Park.
Republican leadership has been silent on whether it wants Barton to remain the face of the GOP outfit after the string of sexual controversies effectively ended his career.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s office did not respond to a request for comment on whether leadership was sticking by the longtime manager, who has been coaching the team since the early 1990s. Barton played in the game from 1988 to 1993 and has been coaching and managing since.
Democrats have won eight of the last nine contests, including an 11-2 drubbing this year. Toward the end of a seven-game losing streak from 2009 through 2015, some Republicans grew frustrated with Barton’s managerial decisions.
The following year, Rep. Roger Williams, another Texas Republican, was tapped to coach the team. As manager, Barton would ostensibly still be in charge of who played and where, but Williams has asserted himself there, too.
Williams is a former professional baseball player and played in the minor leagues in the Atlanta Braves organization after graduating from Texas Christian University. His Washington, D.C., office is a shrine to those playing days, with pictures of him in his Braves uniform, and shelves lined with bats and other memorabilia.
Williams would be a natural fit to slide into the manager position if Barton is edged out of the dugout in 2018 or after he retires in 2019.
“Yeah, sure,” Williams said Friday when asked if he’d want to be manager when the position opens up. “That’s what I do, right? Athletic director around here.”
But he said it would be up to Ryan to decide who would succeed Barton. He is not lobbying for the position.
“I’m not going to [Ryan],” Williams said. “We’ve got a lot of other stuff going on here. The baseball game, the baseball team’s a big deal. Barton’s done a good job in the past.”
Barton, however, said choosing his successor is his own decision. The Republican tradition has been for the retiring manager to pick the next one, he said.
“That’ll be my decision to make at the appropriate time,” Barton said. “[Dan] Schaefer chose [Michael G.] Oxley, and then Oxley chose me. That’s the tradition on the Republican side. So I’ll make that decision when it’s appropriate.”
Barton declined to comment on who will succeed him.