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Huntsman takes to Instagram to explain why he won’t run for governor as write-in candidate

Concerns about state’s coronavirus response kept him considering options after primary election, he says

SHARE Huntsman takes to Instagram to explain why he won’t run for governor as write-in candidate
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., second from right, with his wife Mary Kaye, right, talks to campaign staff outside his campaign office in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s Instagram official.

Jon Huntsman’s campaign to be Utah’s next governor has ended.

Jon and Mary Kaye Huntsman shared a long explanation on their Instagram account Friday explaining why he will not run as a write-in candidate for governor this November. The deadline to declare as a write-in candidate is Monday.

Twice elected, Huntsman, who ran with Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and lost in the primary election to current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox by about 6,300 votes, has repeatedly hinted and even said directly it was unlikely that he’d run a write-in campaign.

“While we respect the concerned voices of Utahns from every corner of the political spectrum, our earlier words also still hold true — the primary voters have spoken,” the post said. “Even the closest of races like ours are subject to rules, and we respect that outcome. While proceeding with a write-in campaign makes for a great theoretical game, it also carries with it the harm of more division in our beloved state that needs to heal, on many fronts. This must come first. While there won’t be a write-in effort on our part, we must be honest about concerns and challenges going forward.”

Cox issued a statement after learning of Huntsman’s post.

“As a family committed to others, Jon, Mary Kaye and the extended Huntsman family have dedicated countless chapters of their lives to our country and state — and Utah is better for it,” Cox said in a statement released through his campaign Friday night. “No election result will take away from their record of service, philanthropy and kindness. We share their love for Utah and its people, and Abby and I wish them the very best in their future endeavors.”

He called the primary “the most awkward political primary in Utah’s history” and added his gratitude for the support he’s enjoyed as he moves forward.

Huntsman was elected governor in 2004 and 2008, but left office less than a year into his second term to become U.S. ambassador to China under President Barack Obama. He later ran for president and, most recently, served as President Donald Trump’s U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Huntsman said reports of issues with the state’s response to coronavirus kept him considering the possibility of a running as a write-in candidate, a legitimate remedy for those who feel the electoral system is broken.

“Possible irregularities around the Covid Taskforce more than any other factor have held my attention,” he wrote. “Because if there was corruption, it should never die in darkness, and power should never silence truth. But mostly, the people of Utah deserve the highest of ethics in government, something we worked hard to maintain as governor, as I hope will be the case with future administrations.”

He said many of the toughest issues facing Utahns will be solved by those not serving in elected office.

“It’s also clear that the most pressing issues confronting our state — including homelessness, mental health and education cannot be solved by politicians alone where words and tweets are confused with action and results,” he said. “Our problem-solving void must be filled by free citizens who cherish the preservation of liberty and justice. When you have lived and served where we have, you understand how central they are to our continued prosperity, yet both must be vigilantly protected and nurtured with each generation.”

He continued, “To that end, Utah is and should continue to be a standard bearer. And we all have roles to play — big and small — in repairing our fractured civilization and striving for a more perfect future. This is what free people do. We will continue to be numbered among you through our family’s service to community and country, ever grateful for the love of family and deeply committed supporters. May God bless the great state of Utah.”