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Brian Nicholson, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Neil Ashdown, left, was Jon Huntsman Jr.'s chief of staff as governor and while he was ambassador to China.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is adding his top aide in both Utah and Beijing to a key post on his presidential campaign staff.

Neil Ashdown, who served as Huntsman's chief of staff during his time as governor and as U.S. ambassador to China, has been named deputy campaign manager.

"It is with great pride that I am continuing my service to Jon Huntsman," Ashdown said in a statement. "He is a proven leader who has the experience and judgment to turn our country around."

Ashdown has been at Huntsman's side on the campaign trail, including the former governor's recent visits to Utah. Both returned from Beijing this spring, following Huntsman's resignation as ambassador.

It's been more than 10 years since Ashdown left an academic career to join Utah state government for a job in the Office of Planning and Budget under former Gov. Mike Leavitt.

After his 2004 election as governor, Huntsman named Ashdown a deputy chief of staff. Ashdown moved up to chief of staff after now-Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, resigned that post.

Ashdown held that post until Huntsman resigned in 2009 following his appointment as ambassador by President Barack Obama.

A native of Lander, Wyo., Ashdown holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Albany in New York and has published a book titled, "The Impact of Banking Policy on Trade and Global Strategy."

Ashdown was Huntsman's only addition to the embassy staff.

Huntsman's national campaign manager, Susie Wiles, welcomed both Ashdown and a new director of operations, Conyers Davis, who has worked for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as the U.K. conservative party in England.

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