House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz Will Not Seek Re-Election

The decision from Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee and a leading conservative from the safe confines of Utah, to retire after five terms might be interpreted as a sign of things to come in 2018.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, rose to prominence on Capitol Hill through his dogged investigations of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election.

"I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins", he said.

That Deseret News interview is interesting not just for Chaffetz's open acknowledgment that he'd like to be governor but also because he makes very clear he doesn't have any interest in running for the US Senate.

Chaffetz, who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told the Wall Street Journal that he's still mulling over the timing of when he would leave Washington, DC.

"After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time", Chaffetz wrote.

"I'm reluctant to answer on speculation because I believe it's speculation", Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told reporters at his monthly news conference on KUED. Trump won the Beehive State in 2016 but voters in the largely Mormon state were less than thrilled with his brand of conservatism.

The 50-year-old Chaffetz had strolled to four easy re-elections in his Republican-friendly congressional district.

Chaffetz has seen a rough start to 2017, including a town hall meeting at the beginning of February in Cottonwood Heights where a crowd of angry constituents openly booed Chaffetz and led chants of "Do your job!".

House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted that Chaffetz is "a great defender of liberty and limited government" and wished him the best. Chaffetz has been the representative of Utah's Third Congressional District since 2009, and he has never failed to win at least 66 percent of the vote since his maiden campaign for the seat.

Some are speculating that Chaffetz bowed out early because of two well-funded challengers, both first-time political candidates: Democrat Kathryn Allen, a physician, and Republican Damian Kidd, a lawyer. The Republican statesman from Utah made the announcement which shocked the political realm earlier today.

He didn't rule out a run for Utah governor in 2020.

  • Rogelio Becker