Last summer Sen. Mike Lee was being mentioned as a possible nominee for the Supreme Court when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Amid that speculation, a surprising person was angling to be named as a possible replacement for Lee – former Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
Republican sources who are aware of Chaffetz’s outreach tell UtahPolicy.com that Chaffetz, who resigned from his seat in Congress in early 2017, began lobbying Republicans to be named as Lee’s replacement if he were to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
Eventually, Trump tapped Brett Kavanaugh for the seat.
Had President Donald Trump picked Lee for the Supreme Court opening, the Utah Republican State Central Committee would have forwarded three names to Governor Gary Herbert, who would pick one to fill the Senate seat until the next election. Republicans tell UtahPolicy.com that Chaffetz, who is currently a Fox News contributor, was reaching out to prominent Republicans to secure a spot on that list. It’s not clear if Chaffetz’s efforts included contacting Gov. Herbert.
Chaffetz’s political ambitions may not have ended with his resignation from Congress. He’s been mentioned as a possible candidate for Utah Governor in 2020. A recent UtahPolicy.com survey found 18% of Utah voters picked Chaffetz as their preferred candidate in 2020, trailing only Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox who got 24% support.
Chaffetz served four full terms in Congress after he ousted Rep. Chris Cannon in 2009. He was the chair of the House Oversight Committee from 2015 until his resignation in 2017.
Chaffetz did not respond to a request to comment for this story.