Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is a three-term member of the House of Representatives, and after six years serving in Congress he feels ready to lead one of the two chambers of the United States legislature.
61st Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent shockwaves through Washington, DC, when he announced his resignation in late September. The unexpected news forced the Republican House Majority to nominate a replacement, but so far that has been a rather difficult task.
California lawmaker Kevin McCarthy was the odds-on favorite before he plunged into controversy after making remarks that the goal of the Benghazi investigation was to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
The GOP establishment is vying to entice Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) into taking the speakership. Should the 2012 vice presidential candidate opt to fold on the controlling position, Chaffetz could emerge as the favorite, and that would be a welcome development for Las Vegas Sands multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Chaffetz is notorious to online gambling and iPoker proponents for being the sponsor of RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a bill that would outlaw all forms of Internet betting.
Sheldon Adelson owns property all around the world from Las Vegas to Macau, and if Chaffetz takes command of the US House, he will also control a share of the man third in line to the Oval Office.
The 48-year-old Chaffetz strongly supports banning Internet casinos and online poker on the federal level, a stance he denies has any relation to the Vegas tycoon.
Adelson has much political clout as a result of his campaign contributions, a subject that has already been discussed during the first two GOP debates. During the August Fox News discussion, 2016 Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said politicians are all at the mercy of their donors.
“I gave to many people before this,” Trump said of his presidential aspirations. “When they call I give, and you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later … They are there for me.”
Chaffetz shrugged off reports he introduced RAWA to gain good standing with Adelson, telling reporters in February, “You have active people on both sides of the issue… I’m glad he agrees with me on this one.”
In addition to Chaffetz and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Florida), the other representative interested in becoming speaker, former Speaker Newt Gingrich said he wouldn’t turn down the gig should Congress call his name.
Appointing a currently unelected person to the post would be the first time the House put someone other than one of its own 435 members into the seat, meaning that while Newt says he’s available, it’s unlikely he’ll get the call.
Another possibility is that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is going to return to the chair. The 60th Speaker of the House rescinded her duties when Democrats lost control of the chamber in 2011, but the 28-year member of Congress still retains the position of House Minority Leader.
Pelosi is also a doubtful replacement for Boehner as the GOP controls the House.
So who will become the 62nd speaker?
It’s anyone’s guess, but with Chaffetz presumably being backed by Adelson and his partisan influence, the safe bet might be on the up-and-coming congressman from Utah.
That won’t do any favors for the expansion of online poker come 2016, but should assist in raising the odds of RAWA being passed.