Jon Huntsman Jr. Confirms He’s Entering Race For Utah Governor

Nov 14, 2019, 8:42 AM | Updated: 11:16 am
FILE: Jon Juntsman Jr. (Photo: Eric Betts, Deseret News)...
FILE: Jon Juntsman Jr. (Photo: Eric Betts, Deseret News)
(Photo: Eric Betts, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In an exclusive interview with KSL NewsRadio Thursday, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. confirmed he’s joining the race to govern the state in 2020.

If successful in his bid, it would be his third term as Utah governor.

The announcement ended weeks of speculation that he would be running for the position after he resigned as U.S. Ambassador to Russia.

“We are here to say we are so very honored and humbled to announce my candidacy for for governor of the greatest state in America,” Huntsman told KSL NewsRadio.

His campaign also tweeted a video Thursday of Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, making the announcement from their hotel room in Cedar City ahead of a scheduled appearance at Southern Utah University’s Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service.

Huntsman was first elected Utah governor in 2004. He served in the position until 2009 when he resigned when he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China by President Barack Obama.

In 2011, he left the ambassadorship and returned to the United States to run for president but dropped that bid in 2012.

He was appointed to another ambassadorship in 2017, this time to Russia, by President Donald Trump. He resigned that position earlier this year.

Also running for governor are Salt Lake County Council Chair Aimee Winder-Newton, Utah businessman Jeff Burningham, and Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. After Huntsman’s announcement, Cox took to Twitter to share an image of David and Goliath.

Birmingham released an official statement:

“I welcome Ambassador Huntsman to the race. I’ve always believed Utah deserves a robust debate on the issues impacting our future. We need a smart plan for keeping our economy strong, modernizing our education system, and reclaiming our public lands for responsible use. I look forward to making my case for why Utah needs a job-creating, innovative outsider, instead of a career politician.”

Winder-Newton also responded to the news the former governor was joining the race:

“Utah is at a pivotal moment. Our tremendous economic growth puts us in a position of envy for the rest of the country. It will take bold leadership and new problem solvers to tackle the challenges Utah faces ahead. We owe it to the voters to have a vigorous debate about the different candidates and policy approaches for the Governor’s Office. I’m happy to welcome Ambassador Huntsman into the race and I look forward to contrasting my experience, and plans for Utah’s future, with his.”

According to a poll from the Salt Lake Chamber, in a head-to-head race, Cox was the favorite among Republicans with 34% saying they’d vote for him. Thirty percent said they’d vote for Huntsman. However, among all voters, 54% said they’d vote for Huntsman and 46% favored Cox.

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Jon Huntsman Jr. Confirms He’s Entering Race For Utah Governor