Utah GOP Chairman James Evans tells UtahPolicy.com he believes Rep. Jason Chaffetz will resign from his seat “sooner rather than later.”
Evans said he’s fairly certain Chaffetz will leave congress before his term is up.
“When I talked to Jason, and he said for him to fully explore all of the possibilities he would have to announce he’s not running again so those doors can open,” said Evans. “I’ll leave it to Jason to pick whatever time of his choosing to announce what he’ll be doing.”
If Chaffetz leaves office, Utah will have to hold a special election to fill the seat. There have been only two special elections for congress in Utah’s history, the last one taking place in 1930. No member of congress from Utah has ever stepped down from their seat in the middle of a term. Utah has a streak of 107 consecutive elections without a special election for congress. Only two other states have a longer streak.
Evans says the earliest Utah could hold a special election to replace Chaffetz is August, which would give candidates time to campaign.
There is a potential problem, however. Utah law does not specify how a special election will be conducted, just that it’s up to the governor to issue a proclamation calling for the vote. That means, Gov. Gary Herbert would be in charge of how the election would happen.
Evans would rather see the legislature and governor codify a process so there would be certainty for parties and candidates, and he’s hoping for a special legislative session to deal with the issue.
“From the Republican party’s perspective, we have always used our convention process, so the easiest thing for us would be to simply reconvene the delegates and move forward with either one or two names. That would be the challenge for the legislature and the governor to balance all of those competing interests and decide what is best for everybody.”
There is speculation Chaffetz may be stepping down to take a job offer from Fox News Channel or to prepare for a run for governor in 2020.