Rep. Jason Chaffetz Visits Iowa

Jason Chaffetz, a Tea Party congressman from Utah, raised eyebrows by appearing at a late November fundraiser for a local elected official in Iowa.

12.02.13 5:16 PM ET

Why is Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) appearing at a fundraiser for a local elected official in Iowa?

Chaffetz, a rising conservative star who was first elected to Congress in 2008, was in Iowa on November 21 for a fundraiser for Chad Airhart, the county recorder in Dallas County, Iowa, which consists of fast-growing Des Moines suburbs. The Utah congressman headlined Airhart's "Blue Jean Bash" at Jethro's BBQ and Jambalaya in West Des Moines. Before being elected to maintain local land records and other paperwork in 2010, Airhart was a Republican operative in the state who worked for George W. Bush, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign.

Normally, there's only one reason why an ambitious politician travels to Iowa in late November to help out a local county official, the Iowa caucuses. After all, it's unlikely Chaffetz was inspired by a passionate belief that it is imperative for Dallas County residents to have a Republican file the deed to their homes. 

However, the Utah Congressman seems an unlikely presidential candidate for 2016. After all, he's still only in the House of Representives, which is a poor launching pad for a presidential bid (the last sitting congressman to be elected President was James Garfield in 1880). Plus, being only 46 years old, Chaffetz is in no hurry and should have plenty of political opportunities in the future (including a possible Senate bid in 2018 assuming Orrin Hatch, who will then be 84, decides not to seek re-election).

But, in an email to the Daily Beast, Chaffetz insisted he was simply being a loyal Republican foot soldier. He wrote ""Ho Ho Ho. Just helping out where I can."