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.
Last year, Mr. Chaffetz publicly weighed the possibility of running for governor of Utah in 2020, when his committee chairmanship would be set to expire.
Even with his announcement, Mr. Chaffetz left open the possibility of his return.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Emmarie Huetteman and Matt Flegenheimer