It is not a coincidence that Chaffetz announced his decision after the Georgia House special election provided more evidence of a blue wave building for 2018.
In a statement, Rep. Chaffetz made it clear that he was specifically sitting out the 2018 midterm election:
After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018.
Since late 2003 I have been fully engaged with politics as a campaign manager, a chief of staff, a candidate and as a Member of Congress. I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career. Many of you have heard me advocate, “Get in, serve, and get out.” After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018.
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. 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.
While the natural temptation and easy click bait for some websites are to blame the Russia scandal for his decision, the political reality is that Chaffetz is likely leaving because he thinks Republicans have a good chance of losing the House in 2018, and he doesn’t want to serve in the House minority.
Why should Jason Chaffetz waste two years in the House minority when he can be spending that time getting paid in the private sector and laying the groundwork for a run for governor?
We’ve seen this in politics before. In 2009-2010, there was a wave of Democratic retirements ahead of Republicans taking back the House.
The writing was on the wall for Chaffetz after the special House elections in Kansas and Georgia. Republicans won’t admit this publicly, but they are growing increasingly more fearful of losing the House in 2018. Democrats clearly have the momentum firmly on their side. While someone like Jason Chaffetz has no worries about losing his own seat, the idea of being in the powerless House minority has to hold zero appeal to him.
Jason Chaffetz wants to be governor. He also has his eyes on the White House.
With an obvious blue wave building, there is no time like the present for him to put his plans for the future into action.