Jason Chaffetz said Thursday that he could leave Congress before the end of his term in 2018, Utah radio station KSL reported.
— KSL Newsradio (@kslnewsradio) April 20, 2017
The comment comes in the wake of the Utah Republican’s surprise announcement on Wednesday that he would not run for reelection, or any other office, in 2018.
Chaffetz, 50, is chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The fourth-term congressman elaborated on on his plans in a text to KSL talk show host Doug Wright on Thursday.
“I will continue to weigh the options, but I might depart early,” Wright said Chaffetz texted him.
Chaffetz followed up with a text saying, “The state needs to figure out how this works. Remember Chris Stewart almost left with a presidential appointment and my situation, etc.” Wright said. He was an apparently making a reference to the state’s process of appointing a replacement for Chaffetz’s House seat, Wright said.
Stewart is a Utah congressman who was being considered for secretary of the Air Force, which would have required him to leave.
Chaffetz said he was boarding a plane and referred follow up questions to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Wright said.
Cox, in an interview on the program later Thursday morning, said Utah law would require a special election to fill the seat. But the law is unclear about how and when that process would play out.
“There has been a lot of speculation about what that might look like,” Cox said. “But it’s far too early to opine,” on what would happen.
There is little precedent for such a situation because no Utah Congressman has left a seat early in recent memory, he said, though state officials did start to consider different scenarios to fill Stewart’s seat, he said.
In response to a later tweet suggesting Chaffetz would resign as early as Friday, the congressman told NBC News, “No. Absolutely not true.”