Washington • The two presidential candidates with Utah ties will be in the state on the same day next week, proving that while the Beehive State may not be an early battleground state, it still merits serious attention from Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr.
Huntsman, who was twice elected Utah governor, plans to make his bid official Tuesday and will drop into the state June 24 for an event.
Meanwhile, Romney, who turned around the scandal-tarred 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, is planning two fundraisers in the state on the same day.
Don Stirling, a Utahn and a senior adviser to Romney's campaign, sent out an email inviting supporters to a home in Provo for lunch or to dinner at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City that evening. Details of Huntsman's event aren't yet clear.
Utah's vote in the general election is solidly in the Republican camp. It has been a crucial fundraising state for Romney and could see interest from Huntsman as well.
"I think it's very exciting for Utah Republicans to have two front-running candidates for president," says Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright. "I mean, it's rare for Utah to be in the center of a presidential election, and this year, we're right in the middle of it."
Even more intriguing for Utah politicos is where the support falls between Romney who took nearly 90 percent of Utah's GOP presidential primary vote and Huntsman, who won his last bid for governor with 78 percent of the general-election vote.
"They're going to be competing for the same supporters in Utah because they both have strong ties to Utah, and I think it will be interesting to see where some of those supporters go," Wright said.