If Rep. Jason Chaffetz's bid to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, it would put Utah in a rarified historical air.
Sen. Orrin Hatch is President Pro Tempore of the Senate, putting him third in line for the presidency. Chaffetz would move to second in line by becoming Speaker. The last time two members of Congress from the same state occupied these two powerful positions was 1899.
Dr. Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance and Humphrey School of Public Affairs runs the political blog Smart Politics. Ostermeier provided the following data to UtahPolicy.com about this uncommon confluence.
- The most recent pair to do so is Maine Republicans Thomas Reed (Speaker) and William Frye (President Pro Tempore). They overlapped in these positions from February 7, 1896 to March 4, 1897 and March 15, 1897 to March 4, 1899. Note: these offices were not in the presidential line of succession at this time, however, due to an 1886 change in succession law.
- Before that were Virginia Democrats Andrew Stevenson (Speaker) and Littleton Tazewell (President Pro Tempore) who overlapped for one week: July 9-16, 1832.
- South Carolina Democratic-Republicans Langdon Cheves (Speaker) and John Gaillard (President Pro Tempore) overlapped for over three months from November 25, 1814 to March 4, 1815.
- North Carolina Democratic-Republicans Nathaniel Macon (Speaker) and Jesse Franklin (President Pro Tempore) overlapped for over a half-year: March 10 – November 4, 1804.
Hatch assumed the office of President Pro Tempore after Republicans gained control of Congress' upper chamber in the 2014 midterm elections. That job goes to the most senior member of the majority party in the Senate. The President Pro Tempore presides over the Senate when the Vice President is not available.
Hatch is the second Utahn to hold the office in the Senate. The first was Democrat William H. King from 1940-1941.
Chaffetz would become the first Representative from Utah to sit in the Speaker's chair.
Chaffetz's bid for the Speaker's gavel comes just days before the Republican caucus in Congress votes for a new leadership team. California Republican Kevin McCarthey, the current majority leader, is considered the frontrunner for the job.
Chaffetz officially announced his bid on Fox News Sunday after news of his intentions leaked on Friday.