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FILE - In this June 21, 2011, file photo former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, walks with his wife, Mary Kaye, respectively second and third from right, and their seven children at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., before announcing his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Huntsman was expected to be a force in the 2012 race long before he officially joined it. Handsome and well-spoken, the 51-year-old California native offered a unique set of qualifications as a former GOP governor with experience working under presidents of both parties. From left are children Liddy Huntsman, Willliam Huntsman, Mary Anne Huntsman, Abby Huntsman Livingston, Jon Huntsman III, and Gracie Mei Huntsman, right. Youngest adopted daughter, Asha Bharati Huntsman, is partially visible behind her mother. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
Jon Huntsman buys Fred Thompson’s house in Virginia

First Published Mar 19 2014 02:52 pm • Last Updated Mar 22 2014 09:15 pm

Washington • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, have purchased a home formerly owned by actor and one-time presidential candidate Fred Thompson in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, according to property records.

The Huntsmans recently sold their home in a tony neighborhood of Washington, opting for a larger — but less expensive — spot in a tree-studded area outside the nation’s capital. Real-estate records show that the Huntsmans sold their Kalorama home in the district for $3.7 million, about $100,000 more than they paid for it in 2010.

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The Huntsmans’ new digs, in McLean, Va., sold for $3.1 million at the end of February. The family also owns a condo in the new City Creek Center development in downtown Salt Lake City that they snatched up during Huntsman’s short-lived 2012 presidential race.

It’s not often that a single house becomes home to two former presidential candidates, but if you can’t live in the White House, the McLean home isn’t a bad substitute.

The red-brick Colonial, with seven bedrooms and 5½ baths, opens into a foyer with a chandelier and ornate crown moldings. To the left is a two-story great room with two more chandeliers, and the home boasts a grand dining room, an expansive kitchen and a dark-wood den; and two sun rooms off the back of the house have views of a wooded area not found in the bustle of the Huntsmans’ old house.

The backyard features a pool and a small outdoor kitchen, and abuts several similarly sized homes in an upscale area of McLean.

"It’s a beautiful community," says the Huntsmans’ real-estate agent, Lilian Jorgenson, who notes that former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and former Secretary of State Colin Powell have lived in the neighborhood. "This is a little more rural [than the Huntsmans’ previous home], and they’re just a few blocks to downtown McLean. [It’s a] half-acre lot with lots of trees, so it’s country."

The Huntsmans fell in love with their new house a dozen years ago, when they lived less than two miles away.

In 2001, President George W. Bush tapped Jon Huntsman to be a deputy trade representative. The Huntsman family moved to the D.C. area, buying a home in McLean for nearly $2.5 million.

That home, on Whann Avenue, was a five-minute drive to the one they just purchased on Ballantrae Farm Drive. The family didn’t stay long in McLean. They sold their home on Whann for $2.7 million and returned in 2003 to Utah, where he launched his gubernatorial bid and won, moving into the Governor’s Mansion on Salt Lake City’s South Temple.

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A political whirlwind followed.

Huntsman served as governor for five years, then President Barack Obama nominated him as ambassador to China in 2009. A year later, the Huntsmans bought their Kalorama home in a neighborhood that once housed the cast of Bravo’s "Top Chef: Washington, D.C.," and the next year Huntsman ran for president, though his campaign never caught fire.

Through it all, Jorgenson, the real-estate agent, remembered that the Huntsmans loved the house on Ballantrae Farm Drive. She gave them first crack at it when Thompson decided to sell late last year.

The Huntsmans are in the process of moving homes, though they received less on their Washington home than they had sought. Originally, the family had put the house — a five-bedroom, 4½-bath standalone — on the market for $4.2 million.

One bonus to the new residence: They move out of D.C.’s boundaries and into a swing state.

Jon Huntsman, who is on the board of several companies, including Caterpillar, Ford and the Huntsman Cancer Institute, hasn’t said whether he’ll jump back into politics but has maintained a relationship with the movement No Labels, which aims at bringing Republicans and Democrats together to solve problems. Some political handicappers have talked about a future Huntsman presidential bid, something he hasn’t ruled out.

Fred Thompson, on the other hand, is likely done with running for the White House. He remains somewhat active in politics and entertainment. He continues to host his radio talk show, "Fred Thompson’s America," and is the star of a new independent film about censoring religious speech that is coming out in early May.

With Thompson gone, it’s now up to the Huntsmans to fill the four-car garage and maintain the five fireplaces in the house. The home won’t be empty. Huntsmans’ two adopted daughters, Gracie Mei and Asha, are going to school in Washington and their two sons are at the Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis.

tburr@sltrib.com mcanham@sltrib.com

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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