Huntsman taps Kaufusi as his running mate

Huntsman Kaufusi 01

Jon Huntsman Jr. tapped Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi as his running mate on Friday.

The move, announced in a video on Twitter, is an echo to his 2004 campaign when he tapped a well-known Utah county elected official for the number two position on the ticket. Then it was Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert who assumed the top office when Huntsman became the Ambassador to China under President Barack Obama.

“Michelle is a natural leader with a real passion for public service who will bring an important local perspective to our administration,” Governor Huntsman said in a news release. “Her service as mayor of one of our state’s largest cities has prepared her for this role and her years as a member of her local school board have given her insight into the needs of our students and teachers. Michelle is a tremendous addition to the ticket and she is the right choice to be Utah’s next lieutenant governor.”

Kaufusi became the first female mayor in the history of Provo when she replaced John Curtis in 2017.

“I am honored to have the trust of Governor Huntsman and I look forward to a civil, yet spirited campaign and the opportunity to serve the people of Utah,” Mayor Kaufusi said. “There is no one better prepared than Jon Huntsman to lead Utah. His vision and leadership during his previous administration laid the foundation for Utah’s success over the past 15 years. The experience he gained while serving in our nation’s two most critical diplomatic posts gives him a unique understanding about the challenges we face. And his focus on growth, mental health and extending prosperity to rural Utah is exactly the kind of leadership we need from our next governor.”

Huntsman’s selection of Kaufusi makes a lot of sense in his quest to win the GOP nomination in June as just over 20% of the state’s registered Republicans reside in Utah County. Her name ID and popularity in that area will certainly help.

Last month, former GOP chairman Thomas Wright selected outgoing Rep. Rob Bishop as his running mate, which will likely help him with Republican voters in northern Utah.