Chaffetz may not finish final term in Congress
The chair of the main House committee overseeing the federal workplace, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has announced he won't seek reelection 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", Chaffetz said in a statement.
"After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018", Chaffetz wrote.
In addition, Chaffetz has made a series of high-profile gaffes in recent weeks, including a freaky tirade in March in which he said iPhones were keeping poor people from affording health care.
The announcement came as a surprise to many, given Chaffetz's role as chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee.
Chaffetz signaled the move was in part to spend more time with his family. Speculation, on Wednesday, ran the gamut from a burgeoning ethics investigation that might have landed Chaffetz in the Congressional doghouse, to a possible run for governor.
He appeared less eager, at times, to conduct oversight of the Trump administration, resisting calls from Democrats to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the president's financial dealings.
At a recent town hall in his home district, Chaffetz was roundly criticized by a furious audience, an indication of just how favorably his district views their representative.
He's often even stumbled over himself trying to make headlines: over the summer he endorsed Trump only to recant his endorsement in October after it became clear Trump could be a political liability. He says he's taking a break from the political life-he's represented Utah's 3rd district since 2008. Many of those donations are reportedly from out-of-state contributors (including Rosie O'Donnell, who has tweeted her support) attempting, however improbably, to flip Chaffetz's historically Republican seat to blue.
"I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector", he added.
But, if he ran, Chaffetz would have won re-election in another landslide and whomever the Republican Party puts on the ballot - whether it's Provo Mayor John Curtis or state Sen. Josh Romney, son of Mitt Romney, has said he is "strongly considering" running, but that would not stop Chaffetz from joining the race. Sam Johnson of Texas and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas are retiring.