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Richard Piatt reporting Now we look at the story judged number 4 in our unscientific poll of our staff, the first major change in state government in 12 years.
Back in May, the applause at the GOP convention was mostly a courtesy. At that time, Republican delegates were the ones with the power in the Governor's race. And Jon Huntsman Junior was just one of nine candidates trying to woo them for support.
Jon Huntsman, Jr./May 5, 2004: "Emotionally, it's been a real rush of adrenaline."
The race for Governor had Republican Heavy-hitters: Ex-Congressman Jim Hansen; House Speaker Marty Stephens, Businessman Fred Lampropoulos, Board of Regents Chair Nolan Karras, and current Governor Olene Walker were among them.
In the meantime, Democrats consolidated resources: Scott Matheson Junior announced his candidacy early on, but mostly laid low and let Republicans duke it out while he crafted his message.
Scott Matheson Junior/March 11: "We can never be satisfied with the Utah we have become."
At the Republican convention, Olene Walker was one of the seven eliminated from the race.
Huntsman and Karras hit the campaign trail immediately and intensely; continuing the quest for votes before the primary.
In the end, Huntsman won 30 percent of the vote. There wasn't much time for Huntsman to enjoy that victory, let alone rest much.
The main event started to wind up in late September: The start of a series of debates between Republican Huntsman and Democrat Matheson.
Since the primary, the ever popular, but still Lame Duck Governor Olene Walker continued an ambitious schedule, pushing her reading initiatives most of all, but crafting a tax reform plan, and a new budget as well.
On election day, there was record turnout. Neither candidate took anything for granted.
But, as in the primary, Huntsman emerged victorious by a wide margin.
"Let me introduce you to the next governor of the great State of Utah, Jon Huntsman Junior.”
In defeat, Matheson took the high road, coming to the Republican headquarters to congratulate Huntsman. It was symbolic of a 'gentleman's campaign'.
The next day, Huntsman introduced himself to the state.
Jon Huntsman, Jr. :"I don't want there to be any question about what I will be as governor. I will be a governor for all the people. That's just the way I am."
Huntsman is already working to hit the ground running as Governor, a post he takes over next week.
A tough campaign year is now behind Huntsman. The pressure is now on him as Utah's Governor.