Jason Chaffetz announced Wednesday morning that he will not seek re-election in 2018. On Facebook, Chaffetz argued public service should not be for a full career. His opponents cite growing nationwide frustration over his performance as one reason for his announcement to not seek re-election for Utah's third House district.
Ben Schrieber, a senior political strategist for Friends of the Earth Action in Washington D.C., claimed Chaffetz was discouraged by negative reactions to his performance.
"This is a signal that anyone who's cozying up and enabling Donald Trump and his extreme agenda is feeling incredible pressure, and Rep. Chaffetz didn't like that pressure," he said. "Part of the backlash that Chaffetz felt came from a bill he put forth to basically get rid of 3-million acres of land from federal land to Colorado and he got so much public blow-back that he actually had to withdraw that bill."
Rep. Chaffetz's announcement follows two close elections in Kansas and Georgia. Schreiber believes this indicates a tighter 2018 election season in red states.
"All of these House seats that weren't close in 2016 are going to be close in 2018," Schreiber said. "The signal from the election in Kansas and the election in Georgia last night is that seats that once were almost sure Republican seats are now up for grabs and really contested, even in Utah."
James Evans, Chair of the Utah Republican Party, says Utah’s race won’t be so contested.
"There were unique circumstances with those two particular races, but, with respect to Utah, I don't see that happening here," he said. "And I think I would just ask the other party to just look in the mirror before they start any sort of criticisms given Hillary Clinton."
Chaffetz ended his Facebook post supporting Evans' claim that he believes the third district will remain Republican.