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Chaffetz says it’s “surreal” to step down

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ever since announcing he wouldn’t run for re-election next year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has been looking back at the beginning of his career in politics.

Before the Republican primary, Chaffetz says the odds were on incumbent Chris Cannon’s side.  Chaffetz spoke with Mitt Romney, who wasn’t endorsing anyone at the time.

“I talked to him.  I said, ‘Please keep your powder dry.  Allow me to try and run for this without you putting your thumb on the lever, or on the scale, trying to push it to one side.  The person I was running against had all the endorsements.  Still, I won, and won handily,” Chaffetz said.

While he would go on to grab national headlines by being chair of the House Oversight Committee, the rest of the country didn’t get their first glimpse of Chaffetz through his official work.  He made an appearance on The Colbert Report at a time when some Republicans were staying away from that show.  Chaffetz even challenged Colbert to leg wrestle, but the freshman congressman ending up losing.

There were even jokes about him sleeping on a cot in his office.  Eventually, the relationship with that cot turned sour.

“I’m turning 50 and I’m sleeping on a cot in my office.  I don’t want to spend 250 away from my family, night after night.  I just don’t want to do that,” Chaffetz says.

Now that he’s in the last week of this round of his political career, Chaffetz says he can definitely feel it.

“I started this journey more than a decade ago, and, to have it be down to the last few days is a bit surreal.”

Still, he says he’s not completely checked out, mentally.

He says, “The Judiciary Committee is going to move one of my immigration bills, and that debate will be on Wednesday.  So, that’s helped keeping me focused.”