“The American public wants to see a change”
GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah says he’s running for House speaker in a longshot challenge to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
Chaffetz — chairman of the high-profile House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — says voters and the public want Republicans to fight. He says the current House leaders don’t deserve an automatic promotion.
Chaffetz’s candidacy underscores turmoil in the House GOP little more than a week after Speaker John Boehner’s surprise resignation.
Chaffetz says McCarthy lacks the support to become speaker following a gaffe in which McCarthy suggested the purpose of the House’s Benghazi committee is to drive down Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers.
Chaffetz has a point and is seizing on the momentum that conservatives in the House feel at this time. While some of his support among conservatives waned following his role in GOP retribution against more conservative members (a decision he later rescinded) and his tentative support for “earned citizenship” (after running for his seat primarily based on staunch opposition to any form of amnesty), Chaffetz is still seen as less “establishment” than McCarthy and therefore feels that he is in a good position to affect change in the House.
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) October 4, 2015
Appearing on Fox News Sunday this morning, Chaffetz makes this case and asserts that McCarthy should “not get an automatic promotion.” Watch:
Commenting on the above appearance, The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
Fox News commentator Brit Hume noted after Chaffetz’s appearance, that if it wasn’t the Utah congressman who jumped in the race, it would have been someone else. McCarthy’s Benghazi comment was “very damaging” and gave Clinton ammunition against the GOP.
“People on the right don’t want” McCarthy, Hume said. “He can’t win. We’re a long way from having this settled.”
On Sunday, Chaffetz sent his GOP colleagues a letter asking for their support, noting that many Republicans “have indicated they cannot or will not vote for a current member of our leadership team to be the speaker.”
“I am confident I can bridge this divide and work effectively together with all members of our conference,” Chaffetz wrote.
Despite moves like removing the portrait of former House Oversight Committee chair, Darrell Issa—as well as those of all other former committee chairs—from the House Oversight hearing room, Chaffetz has a reputation for rising above petty politics and working well with both establishment and conservative Republican House members as well as with Democrats, including his counterpart on the House Oversight committee, Elijah Cummings.
Democrats say they are cautiously optimistic that Chaffetz will be a better chairman than Issa. “I am encouraged that Rep. Chaffetz has shown a sincere interest in working together and focusing on reform, and I hope this bipartisanship continues,” Cummings said in a statement on Tuesday. Whether by design or happenstance, Chaffetz’s current focus in on the breaches at the Secret Service, a scandal less fraught with partisan underpinnings than many of the committee’s other inquiries.
Yet Democrats aren’t exactly getting their hopes up, and with good reason. Though he worked for Michael Dukakis’s presidential campaign while in college at BYU (there was a family connection), Chaffetz is a committed and ambitious conservative who represents one of the most Republican districts in the country. As a top early backer of Mitt Romney, he has long been a staunch Obama critic, and after a decisive Republican win on Election Day, the appetite among House conservatives for taking on the administration is as strong as ever.
This goodwill among House members on both sides of the aisle may serve him well in what is seen as a long-shot bid for the House speakership against McCarthy.DONATE
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