SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz's decision not to seek another term in Congress and possibly resign sets the GOP congressman up for a 2020 run for governor without a damaging re-election campaign or pressure to doggedly investigate his party's president.
Instead, the 50-year-old congressman who breezed through four re-election campaigns can lay the groundwork for the governor's race, opening the door for several ambitious Utah Republicans to try to replace him in Congress.
A day after announcing he wouldn't seek re-election next year, Chaffetz said Thursday that he may not even finish the two-year term that started four months ago. Chaffetz said in a text message: “My future plans are not yet finalized but I haven't ruled out the possibility of leaving early. In the meantime I still have a job to do and I have no plans to take my foot off the gas.”
Chaffetz has faced mounting criticism in recent months for declining to investigate President Donald Trump and likely would have faced a bruising primary and general election battle in 2018.
Chaffetz is at least the seventh House Republican to resign this year or announce plans to retire, including four who joined Trump's Cabinet. Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota is running for governor, and Reps. Sam Johnson of Texas and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas are retiring.