Strengths stressed, gubernatorial election nears


    By David Hinckley

    With elections less than two weeks away, gubernatorial hopefuls Scott Matheson, Jr. and Jon Huntsman, Jr. continue to play to their strengths.

    Last week Matheson released a 10th and final policy paper in a 143-page series explaining his plans if he is elected governor. The final paper covers issues of higher education.

    No stranger to academic papers, the former Rhodes Scholar and dean of the University of Utah law school said in an press release accompanying his final paper he thinks any candidate for governor should explain how he or she plans to govern.

    “We”ve, in effect, produced a book that is a road map for governing,” said Mike Zuhl, Matheson”s campaign manager. “The centerpiece is education.”

    On the other side of the race, Huntsman has released only two policy papers. His 40-page economic revitalization plan, though, dwarfs any of Matheson”s 10, the longest of which is 24 pages. The prominent Utah businessman places a greater emphasis on economic issues.

    “Generally, candidates will build off of their experience and play on their strengths,” said Quin Monson, assistant professor of political science. “The fact that Jon Huntsman, [Jr.] has been successful at business gives him more credibility when he offers a plan for economic development. The fact that Scott Matheson, Jr. is emphasizing education is more credible because he is the dean of a law school. That”s typical of any campaign.”

    Matheson”s education emphasis follows a long career in academics. Matheson graduated from Stanford, went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and finally received a law degree from Yale. Matheson also spent time as a visiting associate professor at Harvard before becoming a dean at the U of U.

    In contrast, Huntsman never formally graduated from high school. He did earn a degree from the University of Pennsylvania after also spending time at the U of U, but went no further in his education. Still, Huntsman gained vast business experience leading family companies.

    According to his campaign manager, Jason Chaffetz, the Huntsman family business runs on an $8.2 billion budget, larger than the budget for the state of Utah. He said it also employs a comparable amount of people.

    In addition, Chaffetz touted Huntsman”s experience as a U.S. trade ambassador as preparation for the governor”s seat, saying Huntsman supervised “over half of the world”s trade.”

    Although both candidates play these strengths, they also address other issues. Matheson released a 24-page economic plan last month, and Huntsman”s Web site includes brief summaries of his plans to improve education, transportation, health care and a variety of other topics.

    Voters can find Matheson”s policy papers at Huntsman”s are posted at

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