Chaffetz could become the first Utah member of Congress to quit early

If Jason Chaffetz resigns early, he will become the first-ever member of the U.S. House from Utah to quit his term.

Smart Politics says Utah and Alaska are the only states never to have a member of Congress resign mid-term.

Utah had seen a Senator leave before their term was over. In 1974, Wallace Bennett resigned a few days early to give incoming Sen. Jake Garn a head-start on seniority. That practice is no longer allowed.

Chaffetz would be the first Utah member of Congress to resign out of the 38 who have served in Washington D.C.

  • 20 did not run for reelection (21 times): Democrats William King (1898), James Mays (1920), Milton Welling (1920), Abe Murdock (1940), Walter Granger (1952), David King (1962), Wayne Owens (1974, 1992), and Jim Matheson (2014) and Republicans Clarence Allen (1896), George Sutherland (1902), Joseph Howell (1916), Douglas Stringfellow (1954), Henry Dixon (1960), Sherman Lloyd (1964), Laurence Burton (1970), Dan Marriot (1984), David Monson (1986), Howard Nielson (1990), Enid Greene Waldholtz (1996), and James Hansen (2002)

  • 14 were defeated in the general election: Democrats William King (1900), J. Will Robinson (1946), Reva Bosone (1952), Morris Peterson (1962), David King (1966), Allan Howe (1976), K. Gunn McCay (1980), Karen Shepherd (1994), and Bill Orton (1996) and Republicans Don Colton (1932), Frederick Lourbourow (1932), William Dawson (1948, 1958), and Sherman Lloyd (1972)

  • Three lost their party’s nomination: Republicans Jacob Johnson (1914), Merrill Cook (2000), and Chris Cannon (2008)

  • One died in office: Republican Elmer Leatherwood (1929)

  • Of the 20 Utah U.S. Representatives who did not run for reelection, only four served as many or longer than Chaffetz’s five terms: James Hansen (11), Joseph Howell (7), Jim Matheson (7), and Walter Granger (6).

There is speculation that Chaffetz is readying a run for Governor in 2020. That’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. According to Smart Politics, there have been three members of Congress in recent memory who resigned early then went on to win the race for governor in their state.

  • Democrat Jay Inslee of Washington resigned in March 2012 and won the 2012 (and 2016) elections.
  • Democrat Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii resigned in February 2010 and won the 2010 election.
  • Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico technically did this as well – resigning in February 1997 – but becoming UN Ambassador and Secretary of Energy before winning the 2002 GOV election.