Chaffetz’s departure will eventually set in motion a race to succeed him atop the Oversight Committee in the next year. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who’s best known for leading the select committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, is at this point likely the most viable contender despite being eighth in seniority on the Oversight panel. Several members of the Freedom Caucus are more senior members of the Oversight Committee, like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who unsuccessfully ran against Chaffetz for the gavel in 2014. But their clashes with GOP leaders, who hold the most sway over committee assignments, would likely impede their chances of winning one of the most high-profile posts in Congress. Aides to Oversight Committee Republicans who could be in the running declined to say Wednesday whether they’d run for the post, underlining how unexpected the sudden opening was.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Chaffetz decision stuns Washington, "The West is losing an ally"
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) shocked Washington on Wednesday by announcing he is leaving Congress after his term ends. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, kept the surprise decision under wraps, offering no hints that he planned to cut short his tenure leading the panel. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wasn’t told of Chaffetz’s decision until Tuesday evening, according to an aide, and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus only got a heads-up from the chairman on Wednesday morning. Sources on the Oversight panel also said they didn’t see the news coming. Chaffetz has long been seen as one of Washington’s most ambitious politicians, and the news immediately stoked questions about whether he would run for governor or the Senate. Chaffetz said he would not run for any office in 2018, which would take him out of Utah’s Senate race that year. But he didn’t rule out a run for Utah governor in 2020, saying he “may run again for public office.” One reason the Chaffetz news was surprising is that he could have stayed on as Oversight Committee chairman through 2020. The panel is one of Washington’s most powerful, though it might have less appeal for a Republican lawmaker when his party controls Congress and the White House. If Hillary Clinton had defeated President Trump, Chaffetz was poised to be her lead GOP interrogator. He had vowed to investigate Clinton back in October when it appeared she would win the presidential election...more