Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight Committee and made a name for himself in the Benghazi investigation, made the surprise announcement Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in 2018, four months into his most recent term. Chaffetz said the decision was made so he could spend more time his family and return to the private sector after 15 years in politics. However and given Chaffetz’s growing unpopularity, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’s grown tired of public life. And throwing another curveball, Chaffetz is now saying he might not finish out his current term.
Chaffetz reportedly made the announcement via text message to a Salt Lake City radio show host a day after making an appearance, but has since confirmed this update to several outlets. “My future plans are not yet finalized, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility of leaving early,” he said.
Utah has no set procedures to handle a Congressperson resigning, but plans are being made for a special election, according to Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox.
Chaffetz has not ruled out a future run for office. He’s considered the U.S. Senate previously, and Utah will have a governor’s election in 2020. As Fusion found, Chaffetz owns a domain that may point to a 2028 presidential campaign.
According to The Atlantic, Chaffetz’s decision has set state officials scrambling, with no clear contender to replace him. However, former independent presidential candidate and conservative Mormon Evan McMullin is considering a bid.