Political experts talk about potential race between Sen. Mike Lee and former Utah Gov. Jon Hunstman Jr.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A potential showdown in the Utah political landscape could have national implications.

There were reports Monday that former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. could be a candidate for State Senate in 2016, running against incumbent Sen. Mike Lee.

Political experts at the Hinkley Institute of Politics say if this campaign with both Huntsman and Lee happens, it could be one of the biggest, most watched, closely followed races in the country both locally and nationally.

Lee is an outspoken conservative Republican and advocate for the Tea party, versus Huntsman, who is a former presidential candidate with an international profile as an ambassador to China and Singapore -- if these two men face off for the senate seat in 2016, local political experts say it would be an “epic” senate race.

Kirk Jowers is the director of the Hinkley Institute of Politics.

“I think it would be the single most intriguing and most covered race in the country,” Jowers said. “It really does bring out a lot of the different tensions in the Republican party both locally and nationally.”

According to a CNN report by John King, Utah business leaders and political heavyweights in Washington, D.C. hope to lure Huntsman back to Utah as Lee’s challenger.

“Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee put the Tea Party on the map back in 2010 when he defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Robert Bennet. Now the establishment is trying to get revenge, you might say trying to return the favor," King reported.

Tim Chambless with the Hinkley Institute of Politics said a legislative position would be new for Huntsman.

“To serve as a U.S. senator would be in a different branch of government and that’s something he’s going to have to ask himself, ‘is this the best way that he can serve the country?’” Chambless said.

Jowers told FOX 13 Huntsman is highly regarded among members on both sides of the political aisle and favored within the Utah business community.

FOX 13 reached out to Lee’s press secretary. She responded via email stating, “We don’t have anything to add at this time.”

FOX 13 also tried to get in touch with Huntsman but nothing from that side either.

7 comments

  • K

    Mike Lee is awesome! ..and 10 X the leader as Jon Huntsman will ever be.. Huntsman made some horrible (hesitative then purely political) choices as Gov of Utah, which he would have never been elected for in the first place if It wasn’t for his daddy’s prestige and money. I was very surprised Utahns weren’t smarter than to have elected him the first time. I would hope they don’t make the same mistake twice.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Huntsman lost the support of the typical Utah Republican when he put the bad mouth on fellow Republicans running for office. He is a RINO. Republican In Name Only, and we don’t want him.

  • Trevor

    I hope Lee stays in the senate so he can keep tearing apart the GOP. He’s been excellent at causing conservatives to fight with each other.

    • ANOTHERBOB

      Mike Lee has a lot in common with Mia Love TREVOR. They’re both winners. You remember Mia don’t you? She’s the one who sent Doug Owens back to where he came from.

  • Jonathan

    Utah will vote Mike Lee all day long. Lee is 50x the pro-Constitution leader Huntsman has ever even pretended to be. If Huntsman is foolish enough to take Lee on, I will be shoulder to shoulder with Senator Mike Lee until he defeats all challengers by wide margins. Targeting Orrin Hatch would be much simpler for Huntsman, but I digress. BACK OFF Johnny Jr, we want Mike Lee!

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