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By Phillip Stucky
Republican Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced he would not be seeking re-election in 2018, according to a Wednesday announcement on his personal Facebook page.
Chaffetz has served as a congressman since 2009, and served as the chairman of the oversight committee since the 2013 legislative session.
“Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative in the United States House of Representatives. Serving is an honor and a privilege that I have never taken for granted,” Chaffetz wrote in the Facebook Post.
“After a long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.”
Chaffetz claimed he intends to return to the private sector in the announcement, but there are two key races coming up in Utah that could tempt the nationally-known Republican.
“For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives. I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins,” Chaffetz added.
“I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector.”
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch isn’t likely to seek re-election to his senate seat in the 2018 race, leaving the race open to a host of Republican candidates. Hatch himself appeared to assert that former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney would run in a March statement.
Romney’s son, Josh Romney, also expressed interest in running. Rep. Mia Love, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, and Evan McMullin all expressed interest in the race.
There’s also the 2020 gubernatorial race. A 2016 poll revealed that Chaffetz was the overwhelming favorite to run. Chaffetz earned 25 percent compared to Josh Romney’s 16 percent in the same poll.
The University of Virginia’s Crystal Ball asserts the seat will be a safe Republican seat in the general election. It’s still too early to rate the 2020 gubernatorial race.