Gov. Herbert announces special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz

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Gov. Gary Herbert announced on Friday, May 19 a special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, after Chaffetz announced he will resign June 30.

Chaffetz formally gave Gov. Gary Herbert his resignation on May 18.

Rick Bowmer
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz speaks with reporters at his home Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Alpine, Utah. Chaffetz said he will resign from Congress June 30, a move that calls into question the future of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation he promised to lead about President Donald Trump’s firing of the FBI director and his presidential campaign’s ties with Russia. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve the people of Utah as a member of Congress,” Chaffetz said to Herbert in an email.

The special election will take place Nov. 7, 2017. If a special primary election is needed, it will be held on August 15, 2017.

The special election will follow the same procedures as a regular general election, according to a letter from Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox.

According to the Washingtonian, Chaffetz is looking to move to Fox News, where has reportedly said he will have a “substantial role” as on-air talent beginning in July.

BYU political science professor Jeremy Pope said Chaffetz would have some on-air personality, either making a number of appearances or in a regular broadcast capacity.

“I expect he would represent a kind of expertise on Congress and might represent a somewhat pro-Trump viewpoint,” Pope said in an email. “At least, I would have thought the latter until the last few days. That may have changed things.”

Pope said though Chaffetz has hinted at re-election in a few years, he probably won’t be re-elected to his seat. He said Fox cannot keep him on staff when he is running for election because it would violate Federal Election Commission regulations.

“Chaffetz’ move to Fox News will benefit him financially, and it will also expose him to more Republicans,” said BYU political science professor Richard Davis in an email.

Davis said Chaffetz leaving looks like he is quitting since he just got re-elected.

“He will be accused of running away from responsibilities the voters elected him to fulfill, and particularly at a tense time when his committee could be instrumental in resolving issues related to Trump and possible impeachment,” Davis said. “That does not look good.”

Chaffetz’ chances to run again could be jeopardized by leaving office early, according to BYU political science professor Earl Fry.

“Chaffetz is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at a critical time when so much is going on within the Trump administration,” Fry said. “Some will view this as abandoning ship and not fulfilling his duties to his constituents back in Utah.”

Chaffetz announced in April he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2018.

“I was as stunned as anyone to learn of Congressman Chaffetz’ decision not to seek re-election or any public office in 2018,” Herbert said in a statement on April 19. “Congressman Chaffetz has represented Utah in the United States House of Representatives with distinction, and I have appreciated working him over the last eight years on issues vital to our state.”