The One I'm Worrying About

The one I'm worrying about isn't one of the retreads from 2008, or one of the potential 2008 Vice Presidential picks like Tim Pawlenty. No, it's the less used car salesman-like version of Mitt Romney, Utah's Governor Jon Huntsman. Take a look at some of what he had to say this week:

"What I'm referring to is where the Republican Party needs to go... I'm referring generally to Republican responses to the issues of the day. We've got to get beyond the gratuitous political carping and get on to real bold solutions and real ideas like healthcare, like energy, like the environment, like economic development, like housing. And until such time as we get to the point where we have real solutions for real people, and you're putting people before party, which is what we desperately need to do, we're going to be in a rut. And that's where we kind of find ourselves today."

I don't agree with all of Huntsman's policy prescriptions -- they're all quite conservative -- but to the extent that he is actually speaking about issues that matter to the American people and offering proposals to address them, he clearly stands out from the majority of the Republican leadership this side of Newt Gingrich (who despite the attention lavished upon him remains an immensely unpopular figure). And not only did Huntsman make some news this week by taking to task his own party's leadership in Washington for their empty political gamesmanship, to the detriment of offering real ideas, he also made a splash earlier this month by taking the surprising move of coming out in favor of civil unions in his state of Utah.

Huntsman may not be looking to run in 2012, so perhaps this is somewhat moot in the short run. But I do think we would be remiss if we weren't keeping an eye on him over the coming years -- particularly considering he's just 48 years old at present.

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Utah's Conservative GOP Gov. Backs Civil Unions

I can't say that this isn't pretty surprising.

The republican governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman Jr., is dropping a big, fat political bombshell right in the middle of the state capitol.

He is endorsing same sex civil unions, and that has made Huntsman a hero to some Utahns and a traitor to others.

[...]

The governor told ABC 4 he's been thinking about this issue for years, and, he adds that now is the time to find common ground.

"I believe in traditional marriage. I always have. But I also believe there's more we can do in terms of enhancing those individual rights for others," said Huntsman.

On Tuesday, ABC 4 was not able to get a on-camera comment from senator Chris Buttars, but he was heard to mutter on the Senate floor, "Shocked. Shocked."

Marc Ambinder lays out the electoral math, noting that this move would certainly have an effect on Jon Huntsman's shot at the White House in 2012, should that be something that the Governor is looking at. But taking a step back, getting away from the politics for a moment, this is pretty stunning news. The conservative Governor of the third most Republican state in the country (at least in terms of John McCain's support in 2008), a practicing Mormon, supports civil unions for homosexual couples.

Ambinder says that the bill Huntsman is supporting has little chance of passage. But still. This feels like it is a major development, a tipping point.

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