SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz announced Monday he’s out of the running for the 2020 gubernatorial race because he’s loving his Fox News contributor role and believes he can better serve his country by speaking on conservative issues and championing a Trump presidential victory.
“I really thought I was maybe going to do this, but everything is going exceptionally well with Fox and the public speaking so I’m going to pass on this particular race,” he said.
Chaffetz, however, did not rule out running for another elected office in the future. In fact, he said he would anticipate it.
The curly-haired conservative said he would rather focus on the “task at hand and the tumultuous 2020 presidential election and ensure” a GOP victory for President Donald Trump's campaign.
“I want to flat-out beat the Dems at every level,” he said. “That takes articulating that and making the case.”
Chaffetz was first elected in 2008 to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The former congressman has long been counted among the crowd of possible candidates for the governor's office, having told the Deseret News in 2016 he wanted to leave Congress in 2020 for the election.
He ended up instead stepping down from his congressional seat in 2017, when he gave up his seat in the 3rd Congressional District to take on a contributor role with Fox News.
In 2018, he published a book: "The Deep State: How an Army of Bureaucrats Protected Barack Obama and Is Working to Destroy the Trump Agenda." (The book was mentioned in a "Jeopardy!" clue on Monday night, the answer to which was the phrase "the deep state.")
Chaffetz said on Monday he wants to go out on the road and bring a “megaphone” to the cause for the party to spread the word for the 2020 campaign.
“That excites me,” Chaffetz said. “I like it.”
He said the Republican Party needs to get organized, adding that the GOP is the best remedy for this country, but they need to get out in front to be victorious at the election box.
“The economy is singing,” Chaffetz said.
He said the main three issues in the election will be the economy, health care and immigration.
“Republicans have got to get united in their messaging and the policies that will help solve those issues. … Those get lost in the sea of communications,” Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz went on to add that his reason for not running in the 2020 Utah gubernatorial contest is that his life is in a better balance now, both personally and on a professional level.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox is the first to publicly confirm he is running for governor. Others whose names have come up as possible candidates in the GOP race are Jeff Burningham, Jon Huntsman Jr., Greg Hughes, Aimee Winder Newton and Rob Bishop.
Contributing: Gretel Kauffman