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Business and GOP leaders to court Huntsman Jr. for U.S. Senate, sources tell CNN

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Posted at 5:17 PM, Feb 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-16 19:18:02-05

The following is an excerpt of an article by John King, CNN Chief National Correspondent.

SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Lee was proof in 2010 that the tea party movement was growing from protest movement to political force.

Lee stunned the GOP establishment by wresting the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Utah from longtime incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett, and from that moment on has been a national tea party star.

Now, the establishment is looking to return the favor.

So far, no credible 2016 primary challenger has emerged despite frequent complaints about Lee from Utah business and GOP establishment figures.

But CNN is told there is now an aggressive push to lure a onetime Utah GOP star back into the game.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, you might recall, went nowhere as a 2012 Republican presidential candidate. Since then, Huntsman is more often seen in Washington, where he is a radio host for a program affiliated with the No Labels political organization.

It’s no secret that Huntsman’s deep-pocketed father is not a fan of Lee’s. Word now is that Utah business leaders are looking to talk Huntsman into returning home full time to challenge Lee. And some of the national GOP establishment forces who were successful in opposing tea party candidates in 2014 have told their Utah allies they will join a pitch to Huntsman.

There are myriad reasons to be skeptical such a heavyweight matchup will materialize, but it’s worth watching.