House Oversight Chairman Chaffetz Says He Won't Seek Re-Election

FILE Rep. Jason Chaffetz R Utah speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington

At a February 9 town hall meeting in Cottonwood Heights, Chaffetz was booed by many of his constituents frustrated with his management of the House Oversight Committee.

"I was as stunned as anyone to learn of Congressman Chaffetz's decision not to seek re-election or any public office in 2018", Gov. Gary Herbert said in a prepared statement.

He recalled that when he recently turned 50, he realized he had spent more than 1500 nights sleeping in a cot in his Capitol Hill office, while his wife and children were two time zones away.

"For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives", he said. So who is Jason Chaffetz, and does this news matter to anyone outside of Utah? Together we have been a strong advocate for Utahns.

Chaffetz has represented Utah in the House of Representatives since 2009, after he defeated incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon for the GOP nomination.

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. Chaffetz won his first election in 2008 - a banner year for Democrats - with 66% of the vote, and hasn't been below 70% since. The 63-year-old family physician and political newcomer was actually motivated to run after attending Chaffetz's now-infamous town hall on the eve of the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When Trump demanded that Congress investigate voter fraud, Chaffetz shrugged: "The president has 100,000 people at the Department of Justice, and if he wants to have an investigation, have at it", he told CNN.

"Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative in the United States House of Representatives".

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".

Running for Utah governor in 2020 is a possibility, Chaffetz said, but he's not willing to commit one way or another.

Even with his announcement, Mr. Chaffetz left open the possibility of his return. "Republicans have a deep bench of talented candidates in Utah who are more than up to this challenge. I'm proud to call him a friend", said Steve Stivers, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, in a press release. "The NRCC is very confident in our ability to keep this seat red in November 2018".

Chris Karpowitz, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University, said it is likely that Republicans more seasoned than Kidd such as Provo Mayor John Curtis or Evan McMullin, who ran for president as an anti-Donald Trump independent, would run.

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