Chaffetz announces bid for Speaker

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Sunday announced his intention to run to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

{mosads}“Today, here, I am announcing my intention to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives,” Chaffetz said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said he does not believe House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is the favorite to take over the Speakership, can get the requisite number of votes from Republicans to win.

“Kevin McCarthy is a good man, he’s a big reason why we have such a solid majority, but things have changed, and there’s really a math problem,” he said. “You need 218 votes on the floor of the House, there are 246 Republicans who will vote, but there are nearly 50 people and a growing number that will not and cannot vote for Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker on the floor. He’s going to fall short of the 218 votes on the floor of the House.”

The Utah Republican positioned himself as a candidate who can bring together an increasingly divided Republican Party in Congress, saying he appeals to establishment and Tea Party members.

“That’s why I’m offering myself as a candidate, to try to bridge that divide,” Chaffetz said. “I think those 50-plus people find that I’m a fair, even-balanced person, that I can bridge that divide between our more centrist members and some of the more far-right-wing members. That’s why I entered this race.”

Chaffetz also said several representatives have urged him to run for the Speakership, saying they can’t vote for McCarthy.

Chaffetz did not specify whether he would support the Speaker-designate who emerges from a closed-door vote at the Republican House Conference on Thursday, but said he would support the eventual Speaker.

The four-term congressman has recently been critical of McCarthy for linking the congressional committee investigating the terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya to Hillary Clinton’s sliding poll numbers.

The gaffe has called into question whether McCarthy is ready to take over the House’s top job.

The race for the Speakership stems from Boehner’s announcement that he would step down at the end of October.

House Republicans will huddle behind closed doors Thursday to pick their next Speaker.

In a letter sent to colleagues asking for their support, Chaffetz said he would do a “great job of communicating a positive and strong message of hope and opportunity for our country” and would bridge the current divide within the GOP conference.

He also said he would stand up for “core conservative principles: accountability, fiscal discipline, limited government and a strong national defense.”

Chaffetz said as Speaker he would also restore regular order and engage in “meaningful” process reform to maximize member input and participation.

–Scott Wong contributed to this report, which was last updated at 12:06 p.m.

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