Updated August 11, 2011
Jon Huntsman Bio from Jon Huntsman for President
1960 March 26. Jon Meade Huntsman, Jr., born in Palo Alto, CA, to Jon and Karen Huntsman. He would be the oldest of nine children.
Meanwhile, back in Florida, a baby was born a year later named Mary Kaye Cooper. She would spend all of her summers growing up in North Carolina.
1970 Jon Huntsman, Sr. starts the Huntsman Container Corporation and is also chosen to serve in the Nixon administration, moving 10-year-old Jon to Maryland where he starts a successful lawn-mowing business.
1975 Mary Kaye’s father is transferred to Utah.
1976 Jon Huntsman Jr. first meets Mary Kaye Cooper in the courtyard at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. She had just arrived from Orlando with a thick southern drawl. They become friends.
1978 Jon Jr. drops out of high school his senior year to play keyboards in his band, “Wizard.”
That fall, priorities adjusted, Jon begins taking classes at the University of Utah. After proving himself academically, he enrolls as a full-time student.
1979 Jon embarks on a two-year Mormon mission to Taiwan.
1981 He completes his mission, returns to the University of Utah.
1982 After working as an intern for Senator Orrin Hatch, Jon begins working as a staff assistant to President Reagan. Mary Kaye Cooper just happens to be working in Washington, D.C., too.
1983 Jon and Mary Kaye drive back to Utah, get engaged on her birthday and marry two months later on November 18th. He joins the family business as project manager and secretary of Huntsman Corporation.
Jon and his wife eventually have seven children, Mary Anne, Abigail, Elizabeth, Jon III, William, Gracie Mei and Asha Bharati.
1984 Jon serves as Utah state director for the Reagan-Bush campaign.
1985 Huntsman Corporation faces major financial troubles. Jon works with his father and brothers to rebuild the company. Huntsman Corporation rebounded and grows exponentially. Jon and Mary Kaye’s first child, Mary Anne, is born.
1986 Their second child, Abigail, is born.
1987 Jon graduates from University of Pennsylvania with a degree in International Politics.
1987-88 Jon serves as vice president and director of Huntsman Pacific Chemical Corporation and Huntsman International. Moving his young family, now with two daughters and a third on the way, to Taiwan. He uses his International experience to help the family business expand globally. The family’s third child, Elizabeth, is born.
1989 President George H.W. Bush names Jon deputy assistant secretary for the Trade Development Bureau of the Commerce Department.
1990 President Bush nominates Jon and he serves as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for East Asia and the Pacific. Jon III, their first boy, is born.
1992 Jon Huntsman named U.S. ambassador to Singapore, becoming the youngest head of a U.S. diplomatic mission in a century. Jon and Mary Kaye’s second son, and fifth child, William, is born.
1993-2001 Serves as vice chairman of the board and executive committee member, Huntsman Corporation.
1995 Jon serves as president of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. He has served on numerous boards for causes including cancer research, education, business promotion and Asian policy. He has served as a trustee for the Jon and Karen Huntsman Foundation. He served on the national board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
1999 The family adopts Gracie Mei from Yangzhou, China. She’d been abandoned in a vegetable market. The path to adoption began when Mary Kaye volunteered in a Catholic orphanage while they were living in Tien Mu, Taiwan. After they returned to the U.S., Mary Kaye continued to research adoptions and convinced Jon to start the process. While attending a Christmas tree benefit auction she bought a tree dedicated to adoption. When the vendor asked her what to name it, her kids suggested the name for the new sister they hoped to someday have, Gracie Mei. Mary Kaye told the vendor that name at 8:15 PM. When she returned home there was a message received at 8:15 PM from the adoption agency notifying her that they had found a child for the family. Gracie Mei knows her story and loves to tell it. When asked who found her in the market she replies, “Jesus.”
2001 President George W. Bush names Jon deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. trade ambassador.
2003 Jon’s wife and kids stage an “intervention” for Jon, who is traveling more than 40 weeks a year. They said, “We want our father back. It’s time for you to come home. We think you should run for governor of Utah.” Jon moved his family back to their home state of Utah and began exploring a bid for governor.
2004 Jon Huntsman wins election as Utah governor. He was part of a highly competitive eight-person field at the 2004 Republican gubernatorial nominating convention. The field included the sitting governor as well as the former and sitting Speakers of the House. He won the general election as well, and was inaugurated in 2005.
2005 The new governor begins implementation of his 10-point plan for improving Utah’s economy that he had proposed in the campaign, making Utah the best state in the country in which to do business. The plan included reform of Utah’s tax structure, improving the competitive environment for small business, growing jobs, attracting capital and making the state more efficient.
A reporter described Jon as “an affable man-of-the-people” after Huntsman took him to his favorite taco stand on a downtown street corner.
Played keyboards with REO Speedwagon at Utah State Fair. Song was Johnny B. Goode.
2006 The family adopts Asha Bharati from Gujarat, India.
Mary Kaye Huntsman founds “Power in You,” a program for school age children that helps with issues from nutrition and self-esteem to teen pregnancy and suicide prevention.
2007 Governor Huntsman undertakes major tax reform, signing into law the largest tax cut in Utah’s history. He simplified Utah’s tax structure and passed more than $400 million in tax cuts, including a flat tax on income, and substantially reduced the sales tax on food. Thousands of jobs are created and many major companies relocate or expand in Utah, drawn to the business-friendly environment.
2008 Voters re-elect Jon as governor, winning all 29 counties with 78% of the vote.
During his governorship, The Pew Center on the States ranked Utah as the best-managed state in the nation, noting its strength in the areas of long-term financial outlook, budgeting for performance and financial control.
2008 Governor Huntsman proposed a new budget that cut $1 billion in spending. His plan maintained a surplus in the state’s emergency fund and preserved the states AAA bond rating, while prioritizing education and services for seniors, children and those with disabilities.
2009 Huntsman spearheaded and passed consumer-friendly, market-based healthcare reform legislation that included an exchange described as “the other end of the spectrum” from the government-run Massachusetts healthcare program. The New York Times said of Utah’s exchange, “employees of small businesses can go to a state website and sign up for insurance over the Internet, almost as easily as they download music from iTunes.”
Huntsman was successful in passing substantial student loan reforms and expanded school tax credits.
2009 Asked by President Obama to serve America, Jon Huntsman is unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as ambassador to China. He turns heads riding his bicycle to meetings with Chinese officials instead of using a motorcade. Officials became impressed with his familiarity with their culture and the way Jon and his family integrated into Chinese life. He worked to improve Internet access for the Chinese population and worked with the government to limit the development of the North Korean nuclear program.
He is still an avid motocross racer, which has been a passion of his all his life. Another passion is street food, often preferring to pick up lunch at a food stall rather than a formal restaurant.
2010 Son Jon III enters Naval Academy. Younger brother Will plans to follow him in serving. Daughter Abigail marries Jeffrey Livingston in Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral.
2011 Resigned as Ambassador to China. Became a candidate for President of the United States.
Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China
Below is from National Governors Association website.
“JON HUNTSMAN, JR. was born on March 26, 1960 in Palo Alto, California. He attended the University of Utah and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
As a business executive, he was chairman of Huntsman Corporation, a multi-national petrochemical corporation based in Salt Lake City, and served as the first president and CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation at the University of Utah. His public service career includes serving as a White House staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan. Under President George H.W. Bush, he was deputy assistant of commerce for trade development, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, as well as U.S. ambassador to Singapore (the youngest U.S. ambassador in a century). He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He also served as a deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. trade ambassador under President George W. Bush.
Huntsman was elected governor in 2004 and was re-elected to a second term in November 2008 with a record percent of the voters.
During Huntsman’s tenure, Utah was recognized for its dynamism, business climate and quality of life and named by the Pew Center as the Best Managed State in America. Huntsman concentrated on raising teacher compensation while increasing student access to all-day kindergarten, early childhood literacy programs and core math and science programs. Huntsman also called on the health care industry to reform a broken health care system so that every Utahn would have access to affordable, portable health insurance.
On August 7, 2009 Huntsman was confirmed to serve as the U.S Ambassador to China.
He and his wife, Mary Kaye, have seven children, including two adopted daughters from China and India.”
Do you know where you still on the political spectrum? See “Political Beliefs, Where Are You” to find out where you stand.
Update Sept 4, 2011
- Michele Bachmann, Congresswoman from Minnesota
- Herman Cain, CEO of Godfather’s Pizza
- Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House
- Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China
- Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico
- Thaddeus McCotter, U.S. Representative from Michigan
- Ron Paul, U.S. Representative from Texas
- Rick Perry, Governor of Texas
- Buddy Roemer, former Governor of Louisiana
- Mitt Romney, Former Governor of Massachusetts
- Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania