SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Former Governor Jon Huntsman Junior has less than a week to make a big decision: whether to try again at becoming the next governor of Utah with an unconventional write-in campaign.
Current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox won the Republican primary for governor in June — beating Huntsman by more than 6,000 votes.
“A lot of people felt that that outcome represented the will of the party, rather than the will of the people,” said Alecia Williams, a Huntsman supporter who is part of a grassroots effort promoting his write-in candidacy.
“So it came together — a lot of people were questioning the outcome, not necessarily the validity of it. Cause that’s not the intent; we understand that he won fair and square. And we’re not trying to discredit that win by any means,” added Williams.
But, she says, we are now in a moment of crisis both locally and nationally — with COVID-19 and demonstrations in the streets over race relations and police conduct. She believes Huntsman’s name recognition and popularity as a former governor could help him win in November as a unifying candidate with trusted experience.
“These are unprecedented crises that are so massive, and they’re all happening at the same time. And I just want a tested leader that knows how to get us through a crisis,” said Williams.
“And Jon Huntsman has not only had that experience, but this is in training of his entire career. In business, in government, his ambassadorship. He learned how to unify people. I just think when I look at the quality of leader we could get out of Jon Huntsman for this unprecedented moment, Utahns would be crazy not to choose him,” added Williams.
She thinks the obstacle of having people write his name on the ballot instead of checking a box is minimized by people being at home during this pandemic. Folks will have pens at home, she says, and they already know Huntsman Jr. A website has even been created to help build momentum: https://www.write-inhuntsman.com
But, ultimately, the decision is his; he has until Monday at 5 p.m. to decide.
The Cox campaign sent this statement to ABC4 in response to our request for comment:
“The people of Utah were fortunate to have many qualified candidates in this year’s primary, including former Governor Huntsman. There is no question he is committed to public service, and it is our sincere desire that he and his family will continue to find ways to serve our state. Utah will emerge from this pandemic stronger than before but only if we choose to work together.”