U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has delivered as advertised for Utah's 3rd District. And the first-term congressman is promising another dose of fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability and strong national defense as he seeks re-election. Voters should propel this rising star of the GOP, who is often chosen to speak on the House floor or before banks of television cameras, to a second term.
While Chaffetz has been hammered in this space for his stances on everything from immigration to health care, he's been true to his convictions, and his word. And the congressman is probably right when he says that his views and votes reflect those of a majority of residents in his sprawling district, which includes Utah County, part of Salt Lake County and a swath of west-central Utah. He won the seat in a landslide two years ago, after upending incumbent Chris Cannon in the 2008 GOP primary.
But Chaffetz, who says his attempts at bipartisanship have gone unrecognized, is not afraid to buck his party. For example, he was one of just nine House Republicans who voted to bring the troops home from Afghanistan. And he's also shown his practical side, agreeing to seek conditional budget earmarks for public bodies after realizing that his anti-pork crusade could deny his constituents their share of federal tax dollars. Plus, he managed to pass several pieces of legislation through the House, a rarity for a freshman, and his efforts to keep the funds flowing for the Central Utah (water) Project and ban foreign radioactive waste from our shores are laudable.
His opponent, Karen Hyer, was a late entry in the campaign. A long-time Republican who is currently unaffiliated, she was recruited to run by the Democrats.
Hyer, 69, certainly has the smarts to govern effectively. The Provo resident taught business ethics at Brigham Young University and holds a Ph.D from Stanford and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland. And her platform fiscal responsibility, economic growth and ethics seems tailor-made for the economic times.
But Hyer lacks practical political experience and a firm grasp of the issues. While she can readily point out the problems facing the country, she's short on specifics when outlining her solutions.
Not so with Chaffetz, who has shown a mastery of the issues and the political process. Third District voters should elect Chaffetz to a second term and see how high his star can rise, keeping in mind that a long-tenured politician will be better positioned to benefit Utah.