Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s announcement that he will not seek re-election will likely lead to some high-profile Republicans stepping up to run for the seat.
I must thank @jasoninthehouse for his service and I admire him for his decision to not become a career politician. I wish him the best.
— Damian Kidd (@damianwkidd) April 19, 2017
Kidd said in an interview that Chaffetz dropping out could make it easier to raise money.
“It doesn’t change my campaign and my message,” Kidd said.
Chris Karpowitz, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University, said it is likely that more seasoned Republicans like Provo Mayor John Curtis or Evan McMullin, who ran for president as an independent, would run.
“A very very popular mayor would be a possibility,” he said, adding that the best candidate would likely be someone who has held elective office or is very popular.
“Both McMullin and John Curtis would fit that description,” he said.
State Sen. Deidre Henderson, who has served as Chaffetz’s campaign manager, is also a potential candidate for her old boss’ job.
Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox, who is considering a run for governor, said that he had been asked about Chaffetz’s seat, but he doesn’t live in the district.
While I appreciate the encouragement of many, I do not live in the 3rd District, and will not be running for the seat.
— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) April 19, 2017
Chaffetz’s Democratic challenger, Kathryn Allen, announced she had out-raised Chaffetz 3-to-1 in campaign contributions. But Karpowitz said Chaffetz’s retirement likely hurts her efforts.
“It’s a solidly red district,” Karopowtiz said.
D.C. residents, whose ire Chaffetz has raised over his aggressive oversight of the district’s laws, had already mobilized against him.
When Chaffetz led a failed effort to scuttle the District’s new assisted suicide law in February, residents in the typically liberal district donated money to Kidd, despite his conservative credentials.
Some formed a super PAC initially focused on ousting Chaffetz. A group of neighbors in Capitol Hill paid for an ad against Chaffetz in a Utah newspaper that ran last weekend.
Kidd said he is not deterred by the challenge from other Republicans potentially jumping in the race and that they will only do things when it is easy to do so.
“It’s a huge challenge and a tough row to hoe to run against a 4 term incumbent,” he said. “These individuals would not make the tough decisions.”