Utah’s Chaffetz will not seek reelection; seat faces strong Democratic challenger

UPDATE — 12:33 p.m. EDT: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) says he may resign his seat in Congress before his fifth term expires at the end of 2018, telling KSL Newsradio Thursday he “might depart early.”

 

To the surprise of many on Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) announced he will not be a candidate for a fifth term in Congress in 2018.

Chaffetz says he intends on returning to the private sector, but did not reveal details of his plans or a role, saying he has “no ulterior motives.”

“I’m trying to leave the door open for possibilities down the road,” he said on KSL Newsradio.

Chaffetz, who won his first election and four following reelection bids by wide margins, has represented the Beehive State’s 3rd District since 2009.

Turning to Facebook, Chaffetz revealed there exist no “ulterior motives” behind his decision to leave the House and wrote:

“After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.  After more than 1,500 nights away from home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018.”

Fueled more by vague answers, speculation persists Chaffetz may seek Utah’s governorship in 2020; Chaffetz has ruled out pursuing political office in 2018.

Taking over chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from California Republican Darrel Issa in 2014, Chaffetz often lambasted government fraud and waste, and relentlessly pursued probes targeting Hillary Clinton over the 2012 Benghazi attack and her private email server.

The panel’s Democrats accused Chaffetz of abusing his role to hound then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Widely expected to run again and keep his seat, Chaffetz’s decision to retire follows a string of contentious town hall meetings with constituents and the emergence of Democratic challenger Dr. Kathryn Allen, who has already raised over $500,000 for her 2018 campaign.

Chaffetz is the fourth House Republican to announce retirement from Congress in 2017, with Reps. Sam Johnson (Texas), Lynn Jenkins (Kansas) and Kristi Noem (South Dakota), all stepping down by the end of next year.

 

[Roll Call] [AP] [Photo courtesy AP/Rick Bowmer via Politico]

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