Jon Huntsman Mulling 2018 Senate Run

Jason Hopkins
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Posted: Nov 29, 2016 6:30 PM
Jon Huntsman Mulling 2018 Senate Run

Speaking during a Monday interview on Bloomberg’s Podcast, the former governor of Utah said he is looking at a run for Senate in his home state.

“We’re going to take a good look at maybe a future Senate run in the state of Utah,” Huntsman revealed. He also added that a run would depend “based on what Senator Hatch chooses to do.”

The seat in play is currently occupied by 82-year-old Senator Orrin Hatch. People are not sure what his intentions will be in 2018. Hatch pledged in 2012 that he would leave after his seventh term, making this his final term in office. However, Hatch has recently given signals that he wants to keep his seat and run again in 2018. He insists people are pressuring him to seek another term.

“I’ve got a lot of people asking me to. A lot of my colleagues are asking me to, a lot of people in Utah are asking me to,” the longest serving GOP senator said. “You know that I had said that... this would be my last term, but circumstances have greatly changed, so I’ll have to look at it.”

As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch is probably tempted by the fact that the GOP will soon control both chambers of Congress and the White House, giving him plenty of influence over tax and entitlement reform.

During his Monday interview, Huntsman made small jabs at Hatch’s almost 40-year tenure in the upper chamber. “He’s been a productive senator for nearly half a century,” Huntsman said. “I’m somebody personally who believes in term limits. I always have. You get in, do your job, you get out.”

The strategy to needle Hatch on his record-long time spent in the Senate is a smart one. The result of Trump’s presidential victory demonstrates voters’ desire for fresh faces in D.C. To be fair, Huntsman isn’t exactly a newcomer to politics. He served as governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009 and was the U.S. ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011 in the Obama Administration. Huntsman also made a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Unlike Huntsman, Hatch was a strong supporter of Trump's candidacy. He even campaigned for Trump heavily in two separate states. The president-elect may return the favor by way of an endorsement in the near future.

Should Hatch decide to vacate his senate seat, Huntsman would be an experienced man for the job. He holds strong diplomatic credentials and knowledge on foreign policy. He is a well-known Sinophile, being well versed in the Chinese language.

One possible wild card in the race - Trump nemesis Evan McMullin visited Hatch's office earlier in November. The conservative who ran for president as an independent alternative to Trump is seriously considering putting his hat in the ring.