Rep. Jason Chaffetz will announce Monday that he is not challenging Sen. Orrin Hatch in next year’s state Republican convention, a source familiar with the Congressman's thinking told Roll Call.
Chaffetz is scheduled to announce the unexpected turn of events at a 6 p.m. Eastern Time news conference in Utah. He has said for months that he would announce his decision at the end of the summer, and he’s hinted all along that he would challenge the six-term Senator. But the Salt Lake Tribune first reported earlier Monday he has opted against it.
Roll Call’s requests for comment from the Congressman and his campaign were not returned. Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen said the Senator’s campaign would not have any comment until after Chaffetz announces his decision.
The conservative Club for Growth has been publicly recruiting Chaffetz to the race, while other outside groups like FreedomWorks have been actively working to oust Hatch. But the Hatch campaign has been at work for months now, working at the local level to elect delegates to the convention to support Hatch. Former Sen. Bob Bennett (R) was ousted at the convention last year and replaced by now-Sen. Mike Lee (R), which gave Hatch an early warning about what was to come in 2012. (For more on Hatch's positioning himself to the right in anticipation of a challenge, read this.)
Earlier this month, a Mason-Dixon poll sponsored by the Salt Lake Tribune found Hatch leading Chaffetz among GOP primary voters 49 percent to 39 percent. That’s a solid showing for the incumbent but likely not strong enough to scare other potential conservative challengers.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.