Huntsman announces GOP bid to return as Utah governor

In this 2017 file photo, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman testifies during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination to become the U.S. ambassador to Russia, on Capitol Hill in the District of Columbia. | Associated Press photo by Alex Brandon, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jon Huntsman Jr., former U.S. ambassador to Russia, is making a play to reclaim his old seat as Utah governor.

Huntsman announced his candidacy in a statement Thursday, ahead of a scheduled kickoff swing through Southern Utah.

Huntsman served in the office from 2005 to 2009, before leaving to serve as U.S. ambassador to China in the Obama administration. He mounted a brief run for president in 2011 and later served as Russia ambassador under President Donald Trump for two years before stepping down last month.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has announced he is not running for re-election, and the race to fill his spot has already attracted several other GOP candidates in the conservative state, including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, businessman Jeff Burningham, and Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton.

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