House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz just announced he isn’t running for reelection
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz is not running for reelection in 2018 and “might depart early” from public office, opening the field in what has been a strongly Republican district in the state.
Chaffetz, who was first elected in 2008 and represents Utah’s Third District, including cities like Provo and Orem, will not participate in the upcoming midterm elections but has not ruled out public office in the future, he announced in a post on his Facebook page Wednesday. He told Politico Thursday, that he “might depart early” from his position, but not in the immediate future.
CHAFFETZ to @politico: “I might depart early. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not next week. If it is, it’s going to be in the months to come.”
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) April 20, 2017
As the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz has come under fire for not investigating President Donald Trump’s possible conflicts of interests, and pursuing investigations of Hillary Clinton, becoming a target of the anti-Trump movement. Still, we of course don’t know the real reasons for his decision — and though it’s too early to say if this is a trend, it could be a harbinger of Republican worry about running for reelection in the era of Trump.
As Vox’s Jeff Stein reported, “As the chair of the committee tasked with investigating ‘waste, fraud, and abuse’ in the federal government, Chaffetz is perhaps the government official with the most power to check Trump’s unprecedented potential to leverage the White House for private gain.” But Chaffetz has been reluctant do so, despite getting an earful from his constituents during a February town hall meeting.
He won past reelections with comfortable margins, representing a strongly Republican district in Utah. A long-shot Democratic challenger, Kathryn Allen — a physician and political newcomer — has reportedly been out-fundraising Chaffetz, according to the Associated Press. Chaffetz, who came out hard against Trump in the 2016 election, is in a strange position now. But he insisted he was “confident” he would have easily won reelection, and that he has “no doubt” a Republican will represent the district.
“I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector,” Chaffetz said in his post.
Among possible Republican contenders is Evan McMullin, who ran a last-ditch third-party presidential campaign to derail Trump and has expressed interest in running for public office again.
Here is Chaffetz’s full statement:
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative in the United States House of Representatives. Serving is an honor and a privilege that I have never taken for granted.
After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.
Since late 2003 I have been fully engaged with politics as a campaign manager, a chief of staff, a candidate and as a Member of Congress. I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career. Many of you have heard me advocate, “Get in, serve, and get out.” After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018.
For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives. I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.
I am grateful for all of you in the current and previous 3rd Congressional District. I acknowledge the outstanding work of my dedicated staff. Together we have been a strong advocate for Utahns.
By announcing now, I hope to give prospective candidates time to lay the groundwork for a successful run. I have no doubt the 3rd Congressional District will be represented by a Republican. I trust you to find the best person to serve.