Chaffetz may not finish final term in Congress


Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who announced he will not seek re-election in 2018, now says he might leave Congress even before his term ends, it was reported Thursday.

The Oversight Committee chairman announced Wednesday he would not be seeking reelection to the House in 2018.

"My future plans are not yet finalized but I haven't ruled out the possibility of leaving early", the Utah Republican told the newspaper. 'In the meantime I still have a job to do and I have no plans to take my foot off the gas'.

During his chairmanship, Chaffetz investigated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email account and server while conducting State Department business.

In the past, Chaffetz has alluded to an eventual run for governor of Utah, but for now, he'll return to the private sector: "I may run again for public office", he wrote, "but not in 2018".

Chaffetz said he was confident he "would continue to be re-elected by large margins", and there were "no ulterior motives" behind his decision.

For months, onlookers have wondered why House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has done his best to protect Donald Trump from his Russian collusion scandal.

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Chaffetz has been considered as a potential candidate for the Senate or as governor of his home state, The Hill noted. Chaffetz won 73 percent of the vote last fall, and Trump won the district by 24 points.

Jeremy Pope, a BYU political science professor and co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, agreed that the Republican primary will be very competitive.

It's possible that Chaffetz doesn't see a place for himself under the Trump administration.

His likely Democratic challenger next fall is political newcomer and family physician Dr. Kathryn Allen, who had an uphill battle in the red district, has already raised over $560,000 for her campaign, an nearly unprecedented sum for a non-incumbent congressional campaign 18 months away from election day. There's nearly no evidence that Democrats can get competitive in this deep-red district.

"Chairman Chaffetz' behavior has always been beneath the dignity of the office he holds and he should step down as Chairman of the Oversight Committee immediately", said Tyler Law, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman.

Update: Amber Philips at the Washington Post suggests that Chaffetz may be bowing out in 2018 in order to run for governor in 2020.