On Wednesday, Utah’s 3rd District Congressman Jason Chaffetz announced in a Facebook post that, “After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.”
This news affects both the 2018 race in the 3rd District and the 2020 Governor's race.
For 2018, the race for Rep. Chaffetz’s seat has already begun. Republican Damian Kidd has already entered the race, and first quarter filings show that Democrat Kathryn Allen eclipsed Chaffetz in campaign fundraising, with $534,300 cash on hand compared to Chaffetz's $402,700.
Chia-Chi Teng, Chaffetz’s 2016 primary opponent, may enter the race again, and Evan McMullin, a 2016 Independent presidential candidate, indicated in an “Ask Me Anything” forum on Reddit that “it is possible” he will run for the 3rd Congressional seat or against Sen. Orrin Hatch.
“By announcing now, I hope to give prospective candidates time to lay the groundwork for a successful run,” Chaffetz said in his Facebook post. “I have no doubt the 3rd Congressional District will be represented by a Republican. I trust (the citizens of the 3rd Congressional District) to find the best person to serve.”
As for Chaffetz's future, he indicated, "I may run again for public office, but not in 2018."
Chaffetz told the Deseret News last year: "I'm not going to be here forever. I would take a serious, serious look at running for governor."
If Chaffetz does run for governor in 2020, he may face stiff competition. Speculation continues to swirl that Josh Romney, son of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, may run for Utah governor in 2020. Utah's current Lt. Governor Spencer Cox may also decide to enter the race.
Current Utah Valley University president Matt Holland’s name has also been thrown around as a possible candidate, as has Spencer Eccles, the co-founder of Cynosure Group and a former director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and chair of the Governor’s Economic Council.
A recent utahpolicy.com poll showed that 25 percent of Utahns would vote for Chaffetz if he ran for governor. That same poll indicated that 24 percent of Utahns would vote for Democrat Jim Matheson, who formerly served as a Utah representative from 2001 to 2015, and 16 percent of those polled said they would vote for Josh Romney. Twenty-three percent of those polled said they didn't know who they would vote for.
In the near term, Chaffetz will continue to serve in Congress until his term ends in 2018, and then he indicated he has "made a personal decision to return to the private sector."