WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican representing Utah's Third Congressional District, is reportedly in the race to be the next House speaker, according to Politico.
Citing anonymous sources, Politico reports that Chaffetz is preparing to announce his run for the seat any day now. However, multiple calls to his office were not returned Friday.
“Jason Chaffetz is someone who is very ambitious,” said Tim Chambless of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.
The decision would not come as too big of surprise to Chambless, who points to the headlines Chaffetz has made just this week.
First, his tough questioning of the head of Planned Parenthood. Then, the revelation that the U.S. Secret Service had reportedly accessed some of Chaffetz’s personnel files in an attempt to embarrass him publicly.
“Secret Service, he looks like a victim. With regard to Planned Parenthood, he may look like a bully. Now, here’s the opportunity to be Speaker of the House of Representatives, at a time at which his party dominates his house,” explained Chambless. “So, politics is all about time. It’s about relationships. It’s all about power. He communicates that very well.”
Elected to congress in 2008, Chaffetz then won a four-way race to chair the House Oversight Committee in 2014. But that doesn’t mean Speaker will be an easy feat.
He’ll have to face the leading contender for the job, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, someone Chaffetz has already criticized this week for comments he made about the Benghazi investigations.
McCarthy’s close ties to Boehner could hurt him, according to Chambless, but Chaffetz will have to overcome the notion that he hasn’t been in Washington long enough, yet.
“It’s unusual,” explained Chambless. “Historically, in 89 years, we’ve only had five house members who can come in, just being newly elected, and become a chair of a major committee.”
When asked about the opening by Fox’s Sean Hannity, Chaffetz would not say whether or not he is running, but that it was an opportunity the Republican Party should seize.
“It’s an opportunity in time to recalibrate and make the case to the American people that conservative values and conservative principles and conservative action is the right prescription for job growth, for liberty,” Chaffetz said.
Speaker John Boehner will step down from the position at the end of October. A vote on his replacement will likely take place a week before he departs.