SALT LAKE CITY — At least one potential candidate for governor in 2020 apparently isn't going to be deterred by Rep. Jason Chaffetz's declaration that he "would take a serious, serious look" at the race.
Josh Romney, the son of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said Monday that "running for governor in 2020 is definitely something I am strongly considering. What others do will not affect my decision-making process."
For now, Josh Romney said he's focused on helping Gov. Gary Herbert win re-election in 2016 for what is expected to be a final term, and he noted that four years "is a long time in politics."
Romney said he's "been consistently asked by others to consider running for political office," and when the time is right, he will decide "based on what the right thing to do is and the positive ideas and solutions I could offer for the future of Utah."
Another potential 2020 gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, said it's too soon for Chaffetz to be talking about the race.
"I hope he doesn't bring the Washington, D.C., mentality of campaigning four and five years ahead of time for another job. That's something I don't think Utahns are ready for," Cox said. "2020 is a long time away and a lot can happen."
Chaffetz, R-Utah, said in a recent interview with the Deseret News that he wants to return to Utah and run for governor rather than stay in the House and try again for a leadership position or make a run for the Senate.
"I'm not going to be here forever. I would take a serious, serious look at running for governor," he said in a story published Monday. "I want to go as hard and fast as I can in the House and then go home."
Chaffetz said he's prepared to run the state after serving as former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s chief of staff and as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a position he would have to give up in 2020 under congressional rules.
"I get it. I know what it takes," Chaffetz said. "You can really make a difference."
Chaffetz told KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright on Monday that while the longer he spends in Washington the less likely it is that he'd want to start over in the Senate, he's "not entirely closing that door."
He said he takes Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, at his word that his current term that ends in 2018 will be his last, but the position "is just not as appealing" as it once seemed.
Chaffetz, who made a bid to become House speaker last year, said because the Senate is seniority driven, it would be difficult for a newcomer to "leapfrog over" others with more experience.
And while Chaffetz has said he intended not to make an endorsement in the contentious GOP presidential primary because of his committee chairmanship, he told Wright on Monday that he will make an announcement soon.
Chaffetz said he was concerned that Republicans, now backing billionaire businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump in the polls, may lose to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.39 comments on this story
"The idea of four or eight more years of a Hillary Clinton at the helm, I just don't think we can take it," Chaffetz said. "I want to find the person with the very best chance to beat Hillary."
Contributing: Dennis Romboy