Senate committee gives unanimous backing to Huntsman nomination as U.S. ambassador to Russia

It looks like smooth sailing for former Utah governor to soon be on his way to Moscow.<br>

FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2012, file photo, Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman waves as he is driven away from a campaign stop in Charleston, S.C. Huntsman said he's ruling out another run for the White House in 2016. Huntsman told reporters in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, that he was replying with a "strong no" when asked if he would enter the upcoming presidential race. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Washington • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman earned a unanimous vote from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia, setting up what is likely to be a quick confirmation from the full Senate.

The committee approved Huntsman in a voice vote with a group of other nominees, though senators singled out the former three-time ambassador for praise in his expected new role as America’s top envoy in Moscow.

We listen to a lot of nominees before this committee — a lot of them are very well qualified certainly,” said Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel. “Governor Huntsman is one of those individuals who is very well qualified. But few have answered the questions with the clarity that he did, and his commitment to carry out the type of strength for our values in our relationship with Russia. So I am enthusiastically supporting this nominee and hoping we can get him to Moscow as soon as possible.”

I couldn’t agree more,” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee chairman.

The Senate has a long list of nominees awaiting votes but Huntsman’s consensus vote may help clear his path to taking the job within a month or so.

Huntsman has been confirmed three times by the Senate as an American diplomat without a single objection. He previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Singapore and China and as the deputy U.S. trade representative, and was elected as Utah’s governor twice.

Editor’s note: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s brother Paul Huntsman is the owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.