"Mitt Romney was the man to pick," said Garff, who emphasized that he admired and respected both men. "It would be unfair to say Mitt Romney was picked over Jon Huntsman. He was still a young man and just beginning to build his vitae. That wouldn't have been a horse race at the time."
But the Huntsman family bridled at the decision. After the vote, Huntsman Jr. turned down a spot on a newly formed Olympic management committee because, he said, he didn't support the process in which Romney was hired. "A search was never fully carried out," he told the Deseret News.
His father criticized the Olympic leadership, calling Romney "very, very slick and fast-talking." He criticized Romney's efforts to raise $100 million from prominent Utahans, saying that would rob financial support from local charities.
Garff hurriedly brokered a series of meetings with Leavitt, Romney and Huntsman Sr. Afterward, the chemical company executive held a news conference saying his concerns had been alleviated. He ultimately donated $1 million to the Games.
When Romney geared up for his first presidential run in 2007, Huntsman Sr. signed on as one of his early national finance chairs. Initially, it appeared his son -- then governor of Utah -- would also back Romney.
In May 2005, Huntsman Jr. told the Deseret News that he was informally advising Romney on foreign policy. "I'll do whatever I can" for him, the governor told the newspaper.
But in July 2006, Huntsman Jr. announced he was backing McCain. Although he admired Romney, Huntsman said, he and McCain shared similar views on immigration and the war in Iraq.
"Being politically monochromatic as a state isn't always in our long-term interests," he said.
Romney learned about Huntsman's switch from newspaper reports. The two have had little contact since. But that may change if Huntsman follows him into the 2012 presidential race, a decision expected within weeks.
"It puts some of us in a more awkward position than others," said Chaffetz, noting both have been helpful to him. "Right now, personally, I'm going to keep my powder dry."