Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is expected to announce today that he will not challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in 2012, sources tell the Salt Lake Tribune.
Chaffetz has scheduled a press conference this afternoon to announce his plans.
If the congressman passes on the race, it will be a surprise: he has said more than once that he is leaning toward a Senate run, and sounded like a candidate for the seat. He has frequently gone after Hatch on a range of issues (the Troubled Asset Relief Program, bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, No Child Left Behind, and the DREAM Act, to name a few). And has recently been holding town hall meetings outside his district, further stoking speculation that he would jump into the Senate race.
Hatch has been on the receiving end of tea party anger, and over the last few months has been trying to woo conservative voters. He is considered vulnerable to a primary challenge -- particularly one from the conservative Chaffetz. The Club for Growth has also publicly urged Chaffetz to run.
Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist is also considering a primary challenge to Hatch, and could get renewed attention with Chaffetz's decision.