Salt Lake Trib Columnist Speculates on Huntsman’s Motivations

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2009

When Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. announced his support for civil unions, I wondered whether this might be an indication of his assessment of the future of Republican politics. Rebecca Walsh, a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune wonders along a similar vein:

But [Huntsman] knows a little something about timing. After his spokeswoman’s low-key response to a Tribune reporter’s question, Utah’s moderate governor will be one of few nationally prominent Republicans open to civil unions for gay couples. Simultaneously, the governor becomes more palatable to a Democratic president who touts bipartisanship. And if that doesn’t work, Huntsman is positioned at the forefront of a Republican Party that’s getting a makeover in time for the 2012 elections.

“It immediately hurts him with core Republican voters. But long term, he has at least four years for this to play out,” says Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics. “Gov. Huntsman feels the calling to be a leader of the rethinking and reshaping of the Republican Party. He’s concerned about the future.”

Whether Hunstman is seeking to reshape the Republican Party for a 2012 run or is simply stating his heart-felt convictions, his support is a very positive affirmation that one need not be anti-gay to be a successful conservative politician.


February 12th, 2009

I think it’s important to remember that nationwide, civil unions for gay couples is an issue that enjoys substantial support; well over half of the country agrees. Support for full marriage equality is closer to 30-45%, but supporting civil unions is really not a terribly controversial position anymore — especially if one is projecting the public opinion four to eight years down the line when this guy would be running for president if ever.


February 12th, 2009

Timothy said – “Whether Hunstman is seeking to reshape the Republican Party for a 2012 run or is simply stating his heart-felt convictions, his support is a very positive affirmation that one need not be anti-gay to be a successful conservative politician.”

That statement seems to me a bit premature until the conservative politician in question has maintained his gay-tolerant position through an electoral cycle.

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