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Laura Seitz, Deseret News, File

McMullin says he may challenge Hatch or Chaffetz in 2018

By Lisa Riley Roche  |  Posted Mar 17th, 2017 @ 8:05pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin said Friday "it is possible" he will challenge either Rep. Jason Chaffetz or Sen. Orrin Hatch, both Utah Republicans, in 2018.

"It is likely that I will seek public office again," McMullin posted in an "ask me anything" discussion on Reddit with the Enough Trump Spam! community after being asked whether he would consider running against Chaffetz.

The former CIA operative and BYU graduate said that could be next year or "sometime down the road, perhaps very far down the road. I genuinely just don't know yet."

But McMullin, who finished third in Utah behind now-President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with 21.5 percent of the vote, made it clear he's looking closely at the Chaffetz race.

"It is possible that I will challenge Chaffetz or Sen. Hatch, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision. One of the primary factors is what the people of Utah want," McMullin said.

"Plenty of people outside of Utah or who do not vote in the Republican primary are eager to see Chaffetz replaced, for example," he said. "But he may be supported by his Republican primary voters, and if so, that has to be taken into account."

The 3rd District congressman faced a raucous crowd at a town hall meeting last month largely upset that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he serves as chairman of wasn't taking on Trump that same way it had Clinton.

Chaffetz then sparked even more criticism for accusing participants of "bullying and intimidation" and suggesting some of the crowd that filled a high school auditorium were paid agitators from out of state.

Recently he drew more negative attention for saying Americans concerned about affording health care under a proposed Republican plan should be investing in insurance instead of buying a new iPhone.

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A Democratic opponent, Kathryn Allen, has already raised nearly $500,000 to run against Chaffetz. A donation to the Cottonwood Heights doctor from actress and comedian Rosie O'Donnell prompted a plea for help fundraising from Chaffetz.

McMullin has been mentioned as a potential contender for the Senate seat held by Hatch before. Hatch told CNN earlier this month he planned to run for an eighth term, a statement his staff attempted to walk back.

Hatch's statement came after Trump tapped former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia. Huntsman, who ran for president in 2012, had said he was considering the Senate race.

McMullin said he is "very focused" now on what needs to be done to advance Stand Up Republic, a group he and his running mate, Mindy Finn, formed in the wake of Trump's election.

He urged the Reddit community to learn more about the group's "fight to preserve our nation's democratic ideals against the Trump administration's subversion of our Constitution."

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