This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Washington • Former Utah governor and one-time presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. is open to running for Sen. Orrin Hatch's seat in 2018 should the longtime Utah Republican decide against re-election.
"We're going to take a good look at it over the next six months to see how best to serve a great state," Huntsman said in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune. "No more complicated than that."
Huntsman, who made an unsuccessful 2012 presidential bid and was elected to two terms as Utah's governor before resigning in 2009 to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, has been touted as a possible replacement for Hatch, who had initially said he wouldn't seek re-election but has since walked back those comments.
In Washington, Hatch told reporters outside the Senate chambers Tuesday that, yes, he was considering another bid.
"Yeah, I'd have to say I am, with the encouragement I'm receiving and knowing what I can do," Hatch said. "Especially with the Trump win."
Hatch added his position as Finance chairman could be helpful for Utah: "It's hard not to think that what's best for my state is to put in a few more years," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Huntsman had sidestepped a question earlier this month on whether he would seek a Senate term, praising Hatch as "amazing" and noting how beloved the seven-term senator is in Utah.
"I've long believed in term limits for members of Congress, but Orrin has always worked hard for the people of Utah and for almost half a century," Huntsman said at the time.
On Bloomberg's Benchmark podcast, Huntsman went further, saying he would take a "good look" at the Senate seat.
"I've always said that I've got one more run left in our bones. And I don't know what that will be. But I love this country," Huntsman said.
The former Utah governor said his decision hinges on Hatch's move, though Huntsman noted the 40 years the senator has spent in office: "He's been a productive senator for nearly half a century," he told the podcast.
"I'm somebody personally who believes in term limits," he added. "I always have. You get in, do your job, you get out."
Hatch said during his 2012 run that it would be his last, though later hedged his promise by saying that he may consider an eighth term if he were close to passing a reform of the U.S. tax code.
Hatch's office didn't respond to a request for comment.
Editor's note: Paul Huntsman, the brother of Jon Huntsman, is the owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.