Jon Huntsman Jr. has been running for governor for eight months now, crisscrossing the state in search of delegates and popular support.

Now it's official: Huntsman is running for governor.

Huntsman, a Republican and son of billionaire industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr., held a "formal" announcement event Monday at the Boys and Girls Club of South Valley in Murray, complete with cheering supporters, endorsements from prominent Utahns and plenty of representatives from the Huntsman clan.

When he started on the campaign trail, "It was all about jobs, all about the economy," Huntsman said. "Eight months later, it really is the economy that people care about."

Huntsman's announcement — one of 10 identical events planned through Wednesday around the state — comes on the heels of Gov. Olene Walker's announcement on Saturday that she would join the crowded GOP field that now totals eight. (Huntsman's event was scheduled prior to Walker's announcement.) Scott Matheson Jr., the son of another prominent Utahn, is the only Democrat to announce his candidacy.

Huntsman, who leads in public opinion polls among the GOP contenders, is chairman and CEO of Huntsman Family Holdings Co. and was president and CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

It is his experience in the private and public sectors — he is a two-time ambassador and worked in three presidential administrations— that makes him the best candidate to "rebuild Utah's economic engines," he said.

"This election is about jobs, jobs, jobs," he said. "If we are going to pay for everything we need in the areas of education, infrastructure and growth, we must deliver quality, high-paying jobs in Utah."

Education will be a priority, he said, especially "putting teaching back on a pedestal." He promised to treat taxpayers like important customers, and to focus on tax reform, Utah's regulatory climate, business capital, travel and tourism.

"We need a governor who can sell Utah to the rest of the nation and the world," he said.

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His candidacy was endorsed by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller and former U.S. Sen. Jake Garn.

"I have seen what he can do that no one else can do," Garn said.

Other GOP gubernatorial hopefuls include former Board of Regents chief Nolan Karras, state Sen. Parley Hellewell, former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, businessman Fred Lampropoulos, House Speaker Marty Stephens, industrialist Jon Huntsman Jr. and Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert.


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