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Chaffetz won't run for reelection

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) will not seek reelection in 2018, he announced in a Facebook post Wednesday morning.

“After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,” the House Oversight Committee chairman said.

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Chaffetz, 50, had been floated as a potential candidate for Senate or Utah governor, but he denied any interest in running for anything in 2018. However, he noted that he “may run again for public office, but not in 2018.” 

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Press: Forget bipartisanship — it's dead! MORE’s (R-Utah) seat is up in 2018, while Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s (R) seat is up in 2020.

“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.

As head of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz played a key role in investigating Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' Hillary Clinton: There must be a 'global reckoning' with disinformation Pelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights MORE’s use of a private email server as secretary of State during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

But he has resisted probing President Trump over the potential for him to profit from the presidency, noting that Trump is “already rich.” He also declined to investigate ousted Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.

Chaffetz is in his second term serving as House Oversight Committee chairman, a position he has held since 2015. Had he chosen to stay in Congress, he could have kept that gavel until 2020 under the term limits imposed by the House GOP conference.

Before first winning election to the House in 2008, Chaffetz served as campaign manager and chief of staff to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. 

He briefly launched a bid for Speaker after John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerMaher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only House Republicans request hearing with Capitol Police Board for first time since 1945 MORE (R-Ohio) announced his retirement in 2015, but stepped aside once now-Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only Cheney at donor retreat says Trump's actions 'a line that cannot be crossed': report MORE (R-Wis.) emerged as a successor.

Chaffetz’s seat is considered safely Republican. But a long-shot Democratic challenger, Kathryn Allen, raised nearly $400,000 more than Chaffetz last month, according to the Salt Lake Tribune

Campaign donations flowed in for Allen after Chaffetz went on CNN during debate over the House GOP’s ObamaCare replacement bill and said low-income Americans might have to prioritize spending on healthcare “rather than get that new iPhone.”

Chaffetz also came under fire for suggesting angry attendees at a town hall in February were “a paid attempt to bully and intimidate.”

A series of negative headlines in recent months appears to have impacted Chaffetz’s approval rating among his constituents. A Utah Policy poll this month found that 52 percent of voters in his district approved of his performance in office — a 14-point drop from a February 2016 edition of the same survey.

Chaffetz has demonstrated a keen sense throughout his career of following where the political winds are blowing. He briefly held back support for then-GOP nominee Trump in October after the release of the the “Access Hollywood” tapes showing Trump bragging about using his celebrity to get away with touching women without their consent. 

At the time, Chaffetz said he couldn’t look his 15-year-old daughter in the eye and discuss Trump’s comments, saying they were “some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine.”

But less than three weeks later, Chaffetz announced he would still vote for Trump but wouldn’t defend or formally endorse him.

 

- Updated at 11:25 a.m.