Chaffetz Denies Reports He'll Immediately Step Down

According to a statement posted to Chaffetz' public Facebook page, he has made a decision to leave public service and go back to working in the private sector, despite his stated confidence that he would have held onto his seat in next year's election. He said that after more than 1,500 nights away from home, "it is time" to step aside.

"After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018", Chaffetz told his supporters on his Facebook page.

Chaffetz added that he has "no ulterior motives" in making his decision to leave Congress.

For now, Chaffetz said, "I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector". For now at least, Jason Chaffetz is preparing to enter the private sector when his current term expires, Fox News reports.

"The more I'm here, the more I'm convinced I don't want to be in the United States Senate", Chaffetz said in an interview with the Deseret News.

Chaffetz' statement says he isn't ruling out running for elective office in the future, and Republicans believe that this move may be created to help him lay the groundwork for a statewide run soon.

Chaffetz's staff in Washington, D.C., and in Utah did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The popular Congressman was involved in Utah politics for many years before winning the state's House seat.

Evans predicted several Republicans will line up to replace Chaffetz, including Provo Mayor John Curtis, former state GOP chair Thomas Wright, Utah's House Speaker Greg Hughes and state Sen. While someone like Jason Chaffetz has no worries about losing his own seat, the idea of being in the powerless House minority has to hold zero appeal to him.

"He finds himself in this no-win situation in DC", longtime Salt Lake Tribune political reporter Robert Gehrke told me in an email Wednesday.

Chaffetz has seen a rough start to 2017, including a town hall meeting at the beginning of February in Cottonwood Heights where a crowd of angry constituents openly booed Chaffetz and led chants of "Do your job!". Chaffetz won 73 percent of the vote last fall.

Attorney Damian Kidd, a Republican who had already stepped in to challenge Chaffetz, said he hopes Chaffetz's exit will free up fundraising money.

Chaffetz has also been put in a hard position as Trump demands Congressional investigations for each conspiracy theory de jour he decides is real based on a Fox News report.

  • Larry Hoffman