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EXCLUSIVE: Jon Huntsman officially announces bid for Governor

FILE - Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. answers a question during a meeting with the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. Ravell Call, Deseret News

CEDAR CITY – Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. is in. The Republican told Utah’s Morning News on KSL NewsRadio he’s entering the race for governor, ending weeks of speculation following his resignation as U. S. Ambassador to Russia.

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

 

“It really is an outgrowth of our commitment to public service. We believe that is a core value. It has been it is a core value of our community, our country and it certainly has been in our family,” said Huntsman.

He said on the phone call with KSL NewsRadio that he was calling from the Hampton Inn in Cedar City.  On Thursday, he will deliver a speech at Southern Utah University, and on Friday he speaks at Dixie State University.

Huntsman joins a race that already has four declared Republican candidates, including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, businessman Jeff Burningham, Salt Lake County Council Chair Aimee Winder-Newton and perennial candidate Jason Christensen. Former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, retiring Congressman Rob Bishop and a list of others have also been considering entering the race, as has former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright.

Reaction from other candidates

The other candidates for the governorship were quick to respond to the announcement from the former ambassador, taking to Twitter. Each spoke to Utah’s Morning News with their reaction.

Spencer Cox

Current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox was quick to tweet out a picture of David and Goliath as well as a list of 125 of Utah’s mayors who endorse his candidacy, just after Hunstman made the official announcement on Utah’s Morning News.

 

 

Cox told the hosts, Tim Hughes and Amanda Dickson, that he welcomes Huntsman into the race. Cox said the competition will make him a better candidate, but added he thinks Huntsman’s absence from the state may hurt his chances of connecting with Utahns.

“We welcome Ambassador Huntsman back to Utah after 10 years and we welcome him into the race and it will he’ll make me a better candidate.

“Ambassador Huntsman has a wealth of experience I mean he knows a lot about the world and what’s happening out there. There’s no question about that.

“The voters will get that opportunity with the different candidates to choose what they’re looking for. Do they want that kind of Prague Cosmopolitan? Do they care about Parowan and what’s happening in rural Utah? We’ll have an opportunity to have those debates.”

Hear the rest of his comments below

Jeff Burningham

Businessman Jeff Burningham was also quick to Twitter, quoting Cox’s David and Goliath picture and asking if it was an endorsement of his run. He called himself the underdog in the race.

 

Burningham told Hughes and Dickson that he’s also very welcoming of the announcement and hopes that it will add to a vigorous debate about the future of Utah.

“Jon is a friend and I think that Utah deserves a robust debate in this election. [This] is a critical time in Utah right now and I think this election is shaping up to be one of four or five career politicians and one innovative outsider,” he said.

 

Hear the rest of his comments below

Amiee Winder-Newton

Salt Lake County Council Chair Aimee Winder-Newton also joined Utah’s Morning News with her reaction. She said the more people that join means they’ll have a more robust debate about policy and the future of Utah.

“This is an interesting race because it’s anyone’s game,” Winder-Newton told Hughes and Dickson Thursday morning.

“I mean, the more people that get into this race and because of how the primary election will be in June, you could have five to seven people on a ballot, someone can win with 23% of the vote or less.”

Hear the rest of her comments below