Chaffetz has made a career confronting establishment

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Jason Chaffetz Runs for Speaker of the House Amid GOP Divide

WASHINGTON (AP) -- One-time college placekicker Jason Chaffetz wants to boot Republican House leaders off their path to promotions.

Chaffetz declared Sunday that he's running to replace retiring House Speaker John Boehner, even though Boehner has chosen Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as his successor, and upend the would-be GOP leadership slate.

It's not a new role for Chaffetz. The 48-year-old chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has never been shy about seeking leading roles in politics. He's climbed the power ladder through a mix of media savvy and confrontations with some establishment favorites. And despite having strong family roots in Democratic politics - his father was the Utah co-chairman for Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign in 1988 and was once married to Dukakis' wife, Kitty - Chaffetz entered Congress in 2009 ideologically aligned with the tea party-tinged class that propelled the GOP into the House majority two years later.

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

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Chaffetz has made a career confronting establishment
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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It's far from clear that Chaffetz will win enough support in the House's complex selection process. Within moments of his announcement, Republicans friendly to McCarthy raised questions about his fitness for the post. But Chaffetz insists that the biggest House majority in decades needs an overhaul at the top, and that he's being called to lead it.

"I've had enough members who've come and said, 'Please Jason, do this,'" Chaffetz said on Fox News Sunday. "'We don't want to fight internally. But realistically, we can't vote to promote the existing leadership.'"

His congressional investigations have raised Chaffetz's prominence but also drawn criticism. The Republican field of White House candidates routinely cite the debate over whether to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, an issue that Chaffetz's committee is probing but which some conservatives complain has produced no clear GOP win.

On another issue, Chaffetz angered some conservatives by briefly revoking a colleague's subcommittee chairmanship when he and other Republicans defied party leaders in a vote on a trade bill.

"I think I learned from that lesson," the Los Gatos, California, native and father of three said on "Fox News Sunday." ''We've got to win the argument and make the case, not just knock people over the head if they don't do what we want them to do."

In short order Sunday, McCarthy's allies circulated a list of Chaffetz's comments, such as his refusal to rule out an effort to impeach President Barack Obama. For his part, Chaffetz has loudly objected to McCarthy's gaffe this week in which he suggested that the GOP-led probe into the 2012 attacks on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, had scored political points against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton, the Democrats' front-runner, was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, which killed four Americans.

Chaffetz also is tangling with the Secret Service as he leads a probe into security lapses at the White House and on presidential trips. The White House said Thursday that "significant concerns" have been raised by reports that in the days after a key hearing on the issue, more than 40 Secret Service employees looked at a job application Chaffetz submitted to the agency in 2003 that was later rejected. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secret Service Director Joe Clancy have apologized to Chaffetz, but the congressman is urging criminal action.

Chaffetz won election in 2008 by toppling incumbent Republican Chris Cannon in a runoff, despite endorsements from President George W. Bush and most of the state's political establishment. In 2011, he briefly considered challenging Sen. Orrin Hatch, and only stepped back after Boehner and others urged him to stay in the House. Ousting Hatch was unlikely at best, Chaffetz said. But he also made clear in multiple interviews at the time that the House offered more chances for advancement, and he hoped to stay on the leadership track.

Recruited to be a placekicker on Brigham Young University's football team, Chaffetz sometimes talks in sports jargon. Explaining why he's running for speaker, Chaffetz earlier in the week praised Boehner for getting rid of special spending items called, "earmarks." But he didn't have much other praise for how the leadership has handled key items on the conservatives' agenda.

"I'm tired of not actually getting to the end zone," Chaffetz said. "I want to score touchdowns."

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