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Daily Herald - Huntsman Easily Wins 2nd Term as Utah Governor

News Article

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Daily Herald - Huntsman Easily Wins 2nd Term as Utah Governor

Brock Vergakis

Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman won a second term on Tuesday, easily defeating Democratic business consultant and bob sleigh racer Bob Springmeyer.

The call was based on an analysis of voter interviews, conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

The outcome was never in doubt.

Huntsman has been one of the nation's most popular governors during his first four years in office, pursuing a moderate agenda in a highly conservative state.

"I'm just very grateful for the trust that the citizens of Utah have placed in us and I think it helps to listen very closely to what people have to say throughout the state -- and we've been doing a lot of listening," Huntsman said.

Springmeyer's campaign strategy largely centered on riding the coattails of Barack Obama, a highly risky strategy in a state that hasn't voted Democratic in a presidential election since 1964. Republican presidential candidate John McCain won Utah's five electoral votes on Tuesday.

A message left on Springmeyer's cell phone was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Huntsman said he won't seek a third term and he is expected to be more aggressive with the Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans who tend to be more to the right than he is.

"Inevitably, you're going to probably be more aggressive in office as you kind of wind down because you're there with a single focus of serving the people who put you in office and wanting to achieve their agenda in the state and there's nothing there to stop you," he said.

Huntsman has already picked one battle -- loosening the state's notoriously strict and quirky liquor laws.

Huntsman, the state's tourism industry and locals who like a cocktail want to eliminate a state law that requires someone to fill out an application and pay a fee to enter a bar that serves liquor. Utah is the only state in the country with such a law.

For Huntsman, the private club membership requirement is harmful to an increasingly lucrative tourism industry that is becoming one of the most important in the state at a time of economic decline.

Huntsman said working to improve the state's economy would be his top priority.

"Our fundamentals are sound, in terms of our overall level of competitiveness," he said. "We will stand out like never before as it relates to our ability to create jobs and attract investment."

Huntsman said a strong economy will help with some of his other goals, such as increasing teacher pay.

"I want desperately, more than anything else, to pay teachers what they're worth ... The only way we can get that done is if priority No. 1 works," Huntsman said. "We're probably two to three years away from reaching the national average, which no one thought we would ever do."

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