Election 2020

Oversight Chairman Chaffetz Won't Run to Keep Seat in 2018

President Trump chats with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) at an address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. (Rex Features via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says he won’t run for Congress or “any office” in 2018, stoking speculation that he may be eyeing the governor’s race in his home state.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), first elected to the House in 2008, said he decided not to run again “after long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration.”

“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,” Chaffetz said.

“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.”

Chaffetz said that by announcing his decision at this early point, he hopes “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,” he added.

Chaffetz’s district, a large swath of Utah southeast of Salt Lake City including Provo, voted 78 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012. In 2016, it went 47 percent for Donald Trump, 24 percent for independent challenger Evan McMullin, and 23 percent for Hillary Clinton.

There has been speculation that McMullin planned to challenge Chaffetz for his seat in 2018.

Two-term Utah Gov. Gary Herbert won’t be term-limited out in 2020, but has said he isn’t interested in running for a third term. Romney’s son, Josh, has expressed interest in running for the office.

Chaffetz faced one of the rowdier town halls of the 115th Congress in his district back in February, where protesters criticized the Oversight Committee chairman for continuing his probes of Clinton while not investigating Trump’s business ties. “The president, under the law, is exempt from conflict of interest laws,” the congressman told the audience.