6. Jon Huntsman Jr. (2012, Republican)
Jon Meade Huntsman Jr. has served in the administrations of the last five U.S. presidents, getting his start as a White House staff assistant for President Ronald Reagan.
President George H.W. Bush appointed Huntsman as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and then as ambassador to Singapore. He has also served as CEO and chairman of his family-owned business, Huntsman Corporation, and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
In March 2003, Huntsman resigned his post as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative in the George W. Bush administration, and in November 2004, Huntsman was elected governor of Utah with 58 percent of the vote. In 2008, Huntsman won re-election with nearly 78 percent of the vote.
President Barack Obama nominated Huntsman to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China on May 16, 2009, noting his experience in the region and proficiency in Mandarin Chinese, which he learned to speak while serving a mission in Taiwan. The Senate unanimously confirmed Huntsman, and he formally resigned as governor of Utah in August 2009.
His time as ambassador would be short, however. In January 2011, he submitted his formal resignation from his post as U.S. Ambassador to China effective April 30, 2011, to make a 2012 Republican presidential bid.
Huntsman formally entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination on June 21, 2011. Unlike fellow Latter-day Saint and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who had faced scrutiny over his faith in his 2008 run, Huntsman was navigating new political waters as the national media, and some Latter-day Saints, placed his faith under a microscope.
“I believe in God. I’m a good Christian. I’m very proud of my Mormon heritage. I am Mormon,” Huntsman told Good Morning America in 2011. He then added, “Today, there are 13 million Mormons. It’s a very diverse and heterogeneous cross-section of people. And you’re going to find a lot of different attitudes and a lot of different opinions in that 13 million.”
Just eight days prior to Huntsman’s Good Morning America appearance, Time magazine reported Huntsman as saying his church membership was “tough to define.”
After focusing his energy and resources on the New Hampshire primary in which he finished third, Huntsman ended his campaign in January 2012 and endorsed Mitt Romney. Romney went on to win the Republican nomination but lost the election to President Barack Obama.
BONUS FACT: Jon Huntsman Jr. and Mitt Romney are related—third cousins once removed. Romney’s great-great-grandfather, Parley Pratt, is also Huntsman’s great-great-great-grandfather.