As Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (pictured, right) resigns from his post to become ambassador to China, his lieutenant governor Gary Herbert (left) steps in as Utah’s chief executive. In a state that’s home to the Mormon Church, that’s quite problematic: While Huntsman, himself a Mormon, at least supported civil unions (and broke with Republican ranks to announce he publicly backed them in February), Herbert does not. To be sure, Herbert’s in the majority in Utah; some 70 percent of residents don’t support civil unions. And yes, Herbert is Mormon, too.
Also worth noting: Huntsman’s name has, like so many others, been floated as a possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate. In a sly move typical of presidents, Obama opted to appoint him ambassador to a faraway land, and make sure he’s thousands of miles away and unable to generate support for a White House bid.