From the day that newly elected Rep. Jason Chaffetz arrived in Washington, D.C., with a $45 cot under his arm to save money by sleeping in his office, the Republican congressman has never been far from the microphones and TV cameras.
The media-savvy Chaffetz, who has a degree in communications, says his rising profile in the Republican Party and in Congress, unusual after just two terms in office, is something he actively cultivates. Otherwise, he says, he would be just another face among 435 members of the House, lost in the shuffle of a body where clout is commensurate with seniority.
Chaffetz believes his growing visibility on the political landscape most recently as the peripatetic front man for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney gives Utah and the 3rd District he represents more visibility in the nation's capital, an argument that so far has been difficult to refute.
If Chaffetz were merely quick with a sound bite, but ineffectual as a lawmaker, Utah would derive little direct benefit from his unabashed image-making. But he has shown prowess in the nuts and bolts of office as well, getting seven of his own bills and one amendment through the House so far this year, including one that clarified ownership of the South Utah Valley Electric Service District's distribution system and another that eliminated split ownership of the Y Mountain Trail by allowing Brigham Young University to purchase the property from the federal government.
For his uncommon effectiveness as a lawmaker, Chaffetz has earned the endorsement of The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board over his Democratic challenger, Salt Lake City Council Chairman Soren Simonsen.
Though Chaffetz has given free rein to his partisan instincts during the presidential campaign, he has commendably broken ranks with his Republican colleagues on more than one occasion, including his strong disapproval of a continued troop presence in Afghanistan.
He also won overwhelming bipartisan support for his Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which would abolish per-country quotas on permanent work visas that had effectively shut out thousands of highly skilled workers.
We don't agree with Chaffetz on a number of issues, particularly his egregious support for oil drilling on the outer continental shelf and for proposed legislation barring the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. We also fault his signing of pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), to promote English as the nation's official language and to oppose any tax increase.
Yet, we are encouraged by signs of his bipartisanship in the gridlocked Congress, and by his success in advancing the interests of his district. Chaffetz has earned a third term.