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Gov. Huntsman names Provo Mayor Kaufusi as running mate


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Former Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman announced Friday he has chosen his running mate, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, to be Utah’s next lieutenant governor, should they win.

“Michelle is a natural leader with a real passion for public service who will bring an important local perspective to our administration,” Governor Huntsman said in a statement.

Kaufusi would bring an “important local perspective” in the position of lieutenant governor, the ex-ambassador to Russia said.

“Her service as mayor of one of our state’s largest cities has prepared her for this role and her years as a member of her local school board have given her insight into the needs of our students and teachers,” Huntsman said. “Michelle is a tremendous addition to the ticket and she is the right choice to be Utah’s next lieutenant governor.”

Kaufusi is the first woman mayor of Provo after being elected in 2017. She ran on a platform pushing for strong neighborhood, vibrant economic development and responsible fiscal management.

“I am honored to have the trust of Governor Huntsman and I look forward to a civil, yet spirited campaign and the opportunity to serve the people of Utah,” Mayor Kaufusi said in a statement. “There is no one better prepared than Jon Huntsman to lead Utah. His vision and leadership during his previous administration laid the foundation for Utah’s success over the past 15 years.”

Born and raised in Provo, Kaufusi attended Provo High School and Brigham Young University. She served six years as a member and ultimately president of the Provo School Board from 2011 to 2017. She said growing up with a single mother of seven taught her the value of hard work.

Kaufusi said the policies and positions Hunstman holds are exactly what the state needs right now.

“The experience he gained while serving in our nation’s two most critical diplomatic posts gives him a unique understanding about the challenges we face,” she said. “And his focus on growth, mental health and extending prosperity to rural Utah is exactly the kind of leadership we need from our next governor.”

Huntsman is one of several candidates vying for the GOP nomination for governor. Ex-GOP chair Thomas Wright is also running with running mate Congressman Rob Bishop. Businessman Jeff Burningham, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes  Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Jason Christensen are also in the race on the Republican side.  Businessman Zachary Moses is running as a Democrat in the race.

Huntsman will be in studio to talk about this decision with Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic at 2:05 p.m. Friday.