Republicans

Chaffetz announces he will not seek re-election

House Oversight Committee chairman speaks out on 'Your World'

 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the outspoken Utah Republican and influential chairman of the House oversight committee, announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election in 2018.

The conservative lawmaker, who’s been in Congress since 2009, confirmed the decision on Facebook

“After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,” he wrote.

Chaffetz, a longtime fixture in Utah politics, has hinted before at potentially running for governor in 2020, and his announcement could be the first step toward that goal. He also has faced an early Democratic challenge for the House seat.

In an exclusive interview on "Your World With Neil Cavuto," Chaffetz said he may run for office again in the future, but for now he's going into the private sector. 

"I want to go back to the private sector," he said. "I want to reintroduce myself to my family."

He also reiterated while he enjoyed his work in Congress on "this issues," his family was the motivation in his decision.

"My family is more important and I love them more than I love being a member of Congress or the Senate," Chaffetz said. 

Chaffetz also discussed the possibility of an open U.S. Senate seat in Utah in the event that Sen. Sen. Orrin Hatch doesn't run for an eighth term. 

"Mitt Romney, there couldn't be anybody better, I don't know if he would do it," he told Fox News' Neil Cavuto, adding "If I wanted to run I'd be very competitive." 

"I preach you want to serve, get in, get out, and that's what I'm doing," he said.

Chaffetz arrived in Congress nearly a decade ago under rather testy circumstances, defeating GOP Rep. Chris Cannon in a 2008 primary runoff. Cannon refused to meet with Chaffetz after that. 

Chaffetz was more recently a leading figure in Congress’ investigations into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email and server as secretary of state. He hounded the Secret Service over multiple security incidents and scandals during the Obama administration; amid those tensions, the agency even apologized to him after officials wrongly accessed personal information about him. He was a frequent critic of government waste, and showed no hesitation about lambasting alleged culprits who appeared before his committee. 

In his role this year, he's also had to navigate how to address ethical complaints about the current Trump administration. And he faced an emerging challenge in 2018 from Democrat Dr. Kathryn Allen, who has been on a fundraising spree after seizing on controversial comments he made suggesting low-income people should prioritize health care over buying iPhones. 

Like many of his colleagues, Chaffetz recently encountered a raucous town hall in his home state. Chaffetz said he's announcing his decision now "to give prospective candidates time to lay the groundwork for a successful run." 

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.