Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz Won't Seek Re-Election in 2018

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley holds a bilateral meeting with the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington DC Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley holds a bilateral meeting with the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington DC
Alfredo Watts | 20 April, 2017, 06:18

But Chaffetz has been reluctant do so, despite getting an earful from his constituents during a February town hall meeting.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz announced on 19 April 2017 that he would not seek re-election in 2018, but he left the door open for a return to politics. Many of you have heard me advocate, "Get in, serve, and get out".

Chaffetz, a Republican who has represented Utah's Third Congressional District since 2008, wrote in a Facebook post that he would return to the private sector.

Chaffetz, first elected to represent Utah's 3 congressional district in 2003, nearly certainly would have had no problem winning reelection among an electorate that hasn't failed to send a Republican to Washington in 20 years. Together we have been a strong advocate for Utahns.

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, commended Chaffetz's service and said he was confident Republicans could keep the 3rd District red.

Chris Karpowitz, co-director at Brigham Young University's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, said Chaffetz may be seeking to avoid a potentially embarrassing primary loss or close race in 2018 that could hurt his prospects for the 2020 governor's race. Mr. Chaffetz had been one of the first lawmakers to raise questions about the Obama administration's role in Benghazi, traveling to Libya less than a month after the attacks to evaluate security standards.

"He is a good friend, terrific public servant and a colleague that will be greatly missed in the House of Representatives and in the Utah delegation", he said.

Chaffetz has also been put in a hard position as Trump demands Congressional investigations for each conspiracy theory de jour he decides is real based on a Fox News report.

The lawmaker, in his statement, said that's why he's announcing his decision to step aside now: "I hope to give prospective candidates time to lay the groundwork for a successful run".

In addition to a long record of anti-gay votes and statements, Chaffetz has also frequently been criticized for trying to interfere in the District of Columbia's affairs.

A Democrat planning to challenge Chaffetz in 2018 raised quite a bit of money earlier this year.

Update: Amber Philips at the Washington Post suggests that Chaffetz may be bowing out in 2018 in order to run for governor in 2020. He told the Deseret News previous year he was interested in running for governor when Gov. Gary Herbert's term ends in 2020. In 2016, it went 47 percent for Donald Trump, 24 percent for independent challenger Evan McMullin, and 23 percent for Hillary Clinton.

The most likely answer, theorize Republican strategists watching this play out, is that Chaffetz is just bored with his job.