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Gowdy being considered for Chaffetz's replacement as Oversight Committee Chairman

Reports say that GOP leadership has begun to court Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) as chair of the House Oversight Committee (Getty Images)

According to the Daily Caller, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina is reportedly being considered to take over as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform upon Rep. Jason Chaffetz's early departure.

Chaffetz (R-Utah) is reportedly announcing Thursday that is stepping down as early as the end June, and will be seeking employment in the private sector, likely as on-air talent at Fox News.

Gowdy's spokeswoman, Amanda Gonzalez, told the Post and Courier that Gowdy has not ruled out the possibility of taking over as chairman of the Oversight Committee.

"Rep. Gowdy is talking to members in the conference about the qualities they believe are most important for the next chairman to possess,"  Gonzalez said.

According to Politico, Speaker Paul Ryan has been encouraging Gowdy to consider the committee chairmanship in order to avoid a prominent House committee being chaired by a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Nine Republicans out of the 24 members on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform are members of the Freedom Caucus. Chief among them is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the most senior member on the committee, and next in line for the chair, if Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn) decides not to run.

Jordan has caused problems for the House GOP in the past, including opposing the GOP's original American Health Care Act (AHCA), and submitting his own repeal and replace plan for Obamacare. Jordan helped lead the Freedom Caucus to shoot down the AHCA in March, causing Trump to suggest Republicans "fight them" in 2018. Jordan later voted for the revised version of the AHCA in May.

Politico reported that while Jordan has not clarified if he will make a push to become chairman, people close to him believe he will.

“We’ll see,” Jordan told Politico on Wednesday when asked about taking over Chaffetz's seat. “Right now, Chaffetz is the chairman, and I want to continue to support the chairman.”

Politico reported that other committee members are jockeying for the position as well, including Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida, who said he would only run if Gowdy didn't.

“I think Trey Gowdy would be exceptional for that … but if he chooses not to do that, I would definitely choose to be in the running for that position,” Ross told Politico. “I think I’ve got as good a shot as anybody if Trey decides not to do it, so I’m going to make a push for it.”

South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford is also considering running, and told Politico he was “making preliminary queries into how realistic or unrealistic a run would be.” Sanford is fourth in line in seniority behind Jordan. Sanford believes he too will face political opposition due to his past of antagonizing party leadership.

"I think as a generality, it could be tough for a Freedom Caucus member to end up with a chairmanship," Sanford told Politico. "And then add a layer to the cake of I've been fairly robust in calling for the president [to release] his tax returns. I think historically in that [OGR] role, they've generally wanted someone quiet, or compliant, you pick the word, as it relates to the administration in power."

Sanford was more forthcoming about his chances when he spoke to the Post and Courier about the position of chair.

"If I'm to be completely candid in political terms, given what I've said about Trump and tax returns, that probably seals my fate," he said.


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