GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz is going to be spending time with his family in 2019, so don't you dare tell me that the narrow Dems losses from special elections so far this year in districts that Republicans won last year by 20 points aren't scaring the hell out of Republicans who would be facing much tougher contests.
Representative Jason Chaffetz, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told supporters on Wednesday that he would not seek re-election to Congress — or for any office — in 2018.
Mr. Chaffetz, 50, a Utah Republican who plainly relished his oversight role more under a Democratic administration, said he was ready to return to the private sector after more than 13 years in public service, calling his decision a “personal” one.
“I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook. “After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time.”
He said his decision was not based on either health or political concerns, adding that he was “confident” of his re-election should he have pursued it and retained support from Speaker Paul D. Ryan for his committee chairmanship
More than 18 months out from the election in the heavily Republican district, there were already possible signs of a challenging race in Mr. Chaffetz’s future. Kathryn Allen, a physician and political newcomer running as a Democrat, has already raised nearly $400,000 more than Mr. Chaffetz this year, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Sunday — most of it from donors outside of Utah. And Mr. Chaffetz had also acquired a primary challenger: Damian W. Kidd, a lawyer and another newcomer who accused the congressman of caring more about himself than his district.
Even with his announcement, Mr. Chaffetz left open the possibility of his return.“I may run again for public office,” he added, “but not in 2018.”
I'm sure Chaffetz will be back in some capacity in GOP politics in Utah sometime next decade, (maybe a primary run against GOP Gov. Gary Herbert, who would be facing his fourth term in 2020?) but the notion that he's not running for the hills after Tuesday's near-upset by Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 6th special election primary is completely laughable.
Expect to see a lot of House Republican retirements ahead of 2018. Chaffetz here won't be the last by any stretch.