Now that 10 days have passed and the surprise that accompanied Jon M. Huntsman's sudden withdrawal from the Utah governor's race has settled, a few observations are in order.
Huntsman's departure from the campaign was as unexpected as his entry a month earlier. These quick in-and-out decisions by one of Utah's best-known and respected business figures naturally raised questions.But there are no "secret" reasons for Huntsman's actions, despite the rather abrupt nature of his entry and departure. At the press conference announcing his withdrawal, Huntsman cited new business opportunities that have arisen and that demand his full attention for the time being. In addition, he said he discovered that he might have more influence as a private industrialist in bringing new economic growth to Utah.
Those statements should be taken at face value. As Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, noted at the time: "I know for a fact that we can take Jon at his word. He's as honest a man as I know. The reasons he stated for withdrawing are exactly the reasons for his decision."
There were surely other secondary considerations, such as the desire to avoid a primary election battle that could be seen as harmful to his party, once it became clear that Gov. NormBangerter was not going to step aside for his former supporter.
Huntsman's efforts to patch up any wounds his challenge to Bangerter might have caused are commendable. It could not have been easy to make that move and to appear with the governor at last week's press conference. But he had the courage and integrity to do so.
Huntsman's withdrawal as a candidate ought to be viewed as a learning experience. It certainly should not be seen as a retreat from civic responsibility or even politics.
While his business affairs may take most of his time, the state has much to gain from Huntsman's help in building a more solid economic base in the state, and from his continuing role in community and cultural affairs.
Jon Huntsman remains a significant, even growing force in the community and will continue to be heard from in many capacities.