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As Chaffetz Jumps In, Race For House Speaker Turns Competitive

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Chaffetz says he wants to mount a challenge for the House speaker's post. i

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Chaffetz says he wants to mount a challenge for the House speaker's post. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

toggle caption Jacquelyn Martin/AP
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Chaffetz says he wants to mount a challenge for the House speaker's post.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Chaffetz says he wants to mount a challenge for the House speaker's post.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he wants to challenge Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for the post of House speaker, saying he's a better communicator and has more credibility with the party's conservative base.

"I am running for Speaker of the House of Representatives because I want to lead the way on tackling the toughest issues facing the United States of America," Chaffetz said in a statement released today.

"I came to Congress to help fix problems, and as Speaker I will fight every day to make that happen. I look forward to sharing my vision for the Speakership with my colleagues and the American people," the Utah congressman said.

"There are very few people who can win the support of our hardcore conservatives and yet be palatable to our more moderate members," he said in an interview with Politico. "The question is who can help unite the party and bridge the divide and I hope they see me as the person that will give everyone a fair shake."

Politico writes: "McCarthy has broad support within the House Republican Conference and remains the overwhelming favorite to succeed outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). And it's unclear how much support Chaffetz can actually garner. Chaffetz, who remarked that he's 'comfortable with losing,' would not say whether he has any pledged supporters."

The Hill writes that Chaffetz hopes to "highlight his Tea Party roots and anti-establishment credentials":

"Chaffetz's pitch to his colleagues will note that he had to defeat the GOP establishment to get to Congress in 2008 — by trouncing then-Rep. Chris Cannon, a six-term incumbent who was backed by then-President George W. Bush.

"In the 2012 cycle, Chaffetz considered a run against Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), but subsequently opted to stay in the House."

Chaffetz is chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which has launched repeated investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's handling of the 2012 Benghazi attack and her use of a private email server while at the State Department.

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