Jon Huntsman Jr., at 51 years of age, has lived a varied and remarkable life in business and public service.
As governor of one of the most conservative states in the country, Jon built a strong executive record by cutting taxes, reducing waste and growing Utah's economy. Thanks to the free-market policies implemented by Gov. Huntsman, Utah weathered the economic storm and grew jobs while the rest of the country saw substantial job loss.
Jon also has extensive foreign policy experience -- a passion that was sparked at a young age. When he was 19, Jon embarked on a two-year mission trip to Taiwan, where he learned to speak Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkein. He was later named U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, becoming the youngest head of an American diplomatic mission in a century. As U.S. Trade Ambassador under President George W. Bush, Jon helped negotiate dozens of free trade agreements with Asian and African nations.
His commitment to service rises above partisan politics. Asked by President Obama in 2009 to serve his country once again, Jon was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as ambassador to China. He turned heads by shunning motorcades, preferring instead to ride his bicycle and interact with the Chinese people. As ambassador, he worked closely with American business owners to facilitate commerce in the growing Asian market, bringing jobs and capital back to America. Jon occasionally butted heads with the Chinese government as he stridently advocated for the release of American citizens wrongfully imprisoned.
In the private sector, Jon is a successful businessman with hands-on job creation experience. He served as an executive in his family's business, which built hundreds of products and employed thousands of people. Using his international experience and language skills, Jon has helped the company compete and expand globally.
Shortly after becoming governor in 2004, Jon began implementing his 10-point plan for jumpstarting Utah's economy -- including historic tax reform. He simplified the tax structure and cut taxes by more than $400 million -- the largest tax cut in the state's history.
He maintained his fiscal responsibility even in the midst of the national economic recession. Rather than raise taxes or use accounting gimmicks, Jon cut waste and made government more efficient. As a result, Utah held its AAA bond rating and earned national accolades for debt management. Under his leadership, Utah ranked number one in the nation in the job creation and was named the best-managed state by the Pew Center.
In 2008, Jon spearheaded and passed comprehensive, market-based health care reform. While other states relied on government control and individual mandates, Jon delivered reforms that give consumers freedom to choose and negotiate their own coverage in a competitive marketplace. He also signed landmark legislation to protect the sanctity of unborn life and defend the Second Amendment.
When he is not working or spending time with his family, Jon enjoys riding his Harley and considers himself a street food connoisseur, frequenting taco stands. He is also an avid motocross racer, which has been a passion his entire life.