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Top Stories of 2009, #4: Transition of Power

Top Stories of 2009, #4: Transition of Power


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SALT LAKE CITY -- KSL NewsRadio is counting down the Top Stories of 2009. No. 4 on the list: Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. stepping down to take a new post within the Obama administration.

On May 16, President Obama picked his new ambassador to China, and his decision changed Utah's government at the very top.

"I can think of no one better suited to take on this assignment than the governor of the great state of Utah, Jon Huntsman," Obama said.

The president knew his appointment would be a case of politics making strange bedfellows. "I knew that because Jon is not only a Republican, but a Republican who co-chaired my opponents campaign for the presidency, this wouldn't be the decision to explain to some members of his party."

However, the decision to accept the position was a no-brainer for then Gov. Huntsman.

"When the President of the United States asks you to step up and serve in a capacity like this, that, to me, is the end of the conversation, and the beginning of the obligation," he said. "You have my commitment that we will take the U.S.-China relationship to new heights."

In Washington, the appointment was praised by pundits, citing Huntsman's ability to speak fluent Mandarin and his previous experience as ambassador to Singapore. Some analysts, however, wondered aloud if the president really wanted to take out a potential opponent in 2012.

On an episode of MSNBC's "Hardball", Washington Post Columnist Chris Cilliza said, "I think Huntsman was getting a lot of attention as a fresh face."

Either way, Huntsman's appointment sailed through Congress, leading to his resignation as Utah governor.

In August, Utah's new governor, Gary Herbert ,was sworn into office. In his address, Gov. Herbert pledged take on current economic problems, as well as to focus on three things: energy, economic development and education.

"As we come together as parents, as students, as business leaders and as community mentors we can, and we will, meet the growing educational challenges that we face and become a shining example of what a world-class education system looks like," Herbert said.

Herbert also committed to recognize the importance of Utah's local businesses and vowed to work with them for their continued success.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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