Michael Brendan Dougherty makes the case for viewing Jon Huntsman as a conservative, not a moderate, in the American Conservative:
“There’s a style he has that gets misinterpreted, and that’s a diplomatic style,” says [Utah state representative Greg] Hughes, “he has reached out to all Utahns, and some people have mistaken his diplomatic approach for being a moderate. If you get to know the guy, his rudder is in the water.” Hughes has a point. For the past two decades a “moderate” Republican was one who generally didn’t side with his party on three issues: taxes, guns and abortion. Huntsman’s record on those isn’t just to the right of other moderates, it is to the right of most conservatives.
Huntsman’s tax reforms included $110 million in income-tax cuts, and would mandate a state-wide flat income-tax rate. Sales and food taxes were slashed too. The deal included tax credits aimed at attracting new business development, including mining. Because the state had a surplus in his first years in office, he also granted teachers a small pay raise and one-time bonus as part of the deal, an increase in spending that the Club for Growth calls “unforgivable.”
But the tax-cut package was the largest in the state’s history. The Cato Institute ranked Utah top in the nation for tax policy after Huntsman’s reforms. After the cuts in 2007, Utah’s revenues had the biggest drop in the nation, but have recovered quickly between 2009 and 2011.
Huntsman may be the pro-life cause’s most accomplished executive. He signed bills banning second-trimester abortions, reclassifying third-trimester abortions as a third-degree felony, and requiring abortion providers to explain the pain unborn children can experience during abortion. He signed a trigger law that would ban abortion outright ifRoe is overturned. He opposes embryonic stem-cell research. And by establishing a state legal fund to defend these laws, he showed willingness to uphold state prerogatives.
And Huntsman expanded the rights of Utah gun-owners, abolishing some concealed-carry restrictions and allowing for more transport of firearms on Utah’s roads. He even signed a bill that would grant small-game hunting licenses to children under 12. In Jon Huntsman’s America, once a child survives the first trimester, he’s well on the way to having a rifle in his small hands and extra money in his pockets. If this qualifies as moderate, why be conservative?