Rep. Chaffetz, brash committee chairman, eyes speaker's race

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A brash congressman who's led high-profile investigations into the Secret Service, Planned Parenthood and other issues seems ready for his most attention-grabbing move yet: an underdog challenge to ascend to House speaker.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz hasn't made his intentions known publicly, but he booked a spot on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss his plans ahead of Thursday's House leadership elections.

The prohibitive favorite in the race is Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, now the top deputy to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is resigning at month's end, worn down by conservatives' pressure.

It's a time of tumult for majority Republicans, and the elections may heighten the disarray among lawmakers looking for a new team to confront President Barack Obama — and perhaps rankle the GOP-run Senate, where Democrats have bottled up Republican priorities.

To see more of the Congressman, scroll through the gallery below:

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Rep. Chaffetz, brash committee chairman, eyes speaker's race
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, becomes emotional during an opening statement at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on whether Planned Parenthood Federation of America should be federally funded, September 29, 2015. In the statement, he recalled his mother's battle with cancer and his wife's work with the disease. PPFA President Cecile Richards, testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, becomes emotional during an opening statement at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on whether Planned Parenthood Federation of America should be federally funded, September 29, 2015. In the statement, he recalled his mother's battle with cancer and his wife's work with the disease. PPFA President Cecile Richards, testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, greets Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on whether PPFA should be federally funded, September 29, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) takes his seat for a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill June 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Following disclosures of devastating breaches of US government computer networks, officials told lawmakers Tuesday even more intrusions may be discovered with investigations and deployment of new security tools. At a congressional hearing where lawmakers voiced outrage over the hacking incidents, the head of the Office of Personnel Management warned that more bad news may be coming. OPM chief Katherine Archuleta did not mention China -- which has been widely blamed for the incidents -- but told the hearing that 'these adversaries are sophisticated, well funded and focused. These attacks will not stop. If anything, they will increase.' AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, speaks before a hearing on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. U.S. senators said yesterday they doubt the government's personnel office understands the breadth of a computer hack that exposed the records of more than 4 million federal workers, or that the agency can stop another breach. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, left, talks to Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, before a House Oversight hearing on Planned Parenthood's taxpayer funding in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Conservative House Republicans have demanded a government shutdown if lawmakers don't defund Planned Parenthood, the women's reproductive health-care provider whose services include abortion. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 9: U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) makes his way to a House GOP caucus meeting, on Capitol Hill, July 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Republican leadership discussed the immigration bill and the Obama administration's decision to delay a portion of the Affordable Care Act, which will extend the deadline for employer mandated health care to 2015. At right, Trey Radel (R-FL) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) look on. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 3: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on 'Inspectors General: Independence, Access and Authority' on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28: Jason Chaffetz speaks during a House of Representatives Judiciary subcommitte on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet titled 'Music Licensing Part One: Legislation in the 112th Congress' in the Rayburn House Office Building at U.S. House of Representatives on November 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/WireImage for NARAS)
UNITED STATES â JULY 25: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, arrives for a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on Monday, July 25, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC-March 9: In his fifth term in the US House of Reprentatives, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) works a 24/7 schedule as works in his office on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
FILE - In this June 16, 2015, file photo, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Chaffetz, R-Utah, sent a letter July 27 to President Barack Obama, asking him to remove IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, saying he has obstructed congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
UNITED STATES - MAY 8: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, left, speaks with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., before the start of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on 'Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage' on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, during a hearing on recent cyber attacks. The OPM is under fire for allowing its databases to be plundered by suspected Chinese cyberspies in what is being called one of the worst breaches in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
House Oversight Committee member Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, right, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, during questioning of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson as the committee examines details surrounding a security breach at the White House when a man climbed over a fence, sprinted across the north lawn and dash deep into the executive mansion before finally being subdued. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2014 file photo, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republicans remain in charge of the House, but it wonât be the same Republicans leading many committees. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, is poised to run the chamber for the fifth straight year, but nine committees are getting new heads, providing an opportunity for fresh faces to make an impact on issues such as defense, government spending and taxes. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2014, file photo, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, left, and his Democratic challenger Brian Wonnacott shake hands after the Utah Debate Commission's debate for the 3rd Congressional District election at Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah. Chaffetz is expected to win another term in Utah's 3rd Congressional District. His challenger, Democrat and political newcomer Wonnacott, struggled during a debate with Chaffetz and didn't invest in campaign signs or a campaign manager until October. (AP Photo/Deseret News, Tom Smart, Pool, File)
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Divisions among House Republicans have widened in the week-plus since Boehner stunned Washington with word he was ending his congressional career. There's not much time to restore order, given the major issues ahead, such as raising the federal borrowing limit to avoid a market-shattering default and paying the bills to keep the government running.

Republican aides with knowledge about the situation said Friday that Chaffetz, a 48-year-old from Utah who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, intended to take on McCarthy for the speaker's job. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm Chaffetz's plans ahead of an announcement.

A key question is whether hard-liners who drove out Boehner and view McCarthy with suspicion would side with Chaffetz. As committee chairman, Chaffetz has enforced leadership initiatives such as punishing lawmakers who buck the party position.

Boehner has endorsed McCarthy, but some conservatives question whether McCarthy's leadership would be any different.

Their concerns grew when, a day after announcing his candidacy for speaker, McCarthy boasted that the House committee examining the deadly attacks against Americans at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, when Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state, can take credit her slipping poll numbers in the presidential race.

McCarthy backtracked after two days, but not before the gaffe allowed Democrats to claim that the committee was a political witch hunt, as opposed to a fact-finding mission, as Republicans long have asserted.

Chaffetz was one of the loudest critics of McCarthy's comments on Benghazi, calling on McCarthy to apologize for "a total mischaracterization" of the committee's work.

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