The Slatest

First GOP Candidate Announces Primary Challenge to Trump

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld announced he will run for the Republican nomination for president, marking the first GOP challenge to President Donald Trump’s reelection bid. Weld made his announcement on CNN Monday afternoon saying, “I really think if we have six more years of the same stuff we’ve had out of the White House the last two years that would be a political tragedy and I would fear for the Republic, so I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t raise my hand and run.”

“Ours is a nation built on courage, resilience, and independence. In these times of great political strife, when both major parties are entrenched in their ‘win at all cost’ battles, the voices of the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering,” Weld said in a statement on his run for president. “It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln—equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”

The former two-term Massachusetts governor is from a wing of the Republican Party that has been set adrift by the new Trumpy GOP, making his path to the nomination a remote one. Fiscal conservatism, some semblance of ethics, and a penchant for bipartisanism will certainly alienate the 73-year-old Weld from much of the new GOP, but it will provide a welcome relief from the Trump onslaught in 2020. Depending on who, if anyone, else gets in the race, Weld will likely command some substantial support from the portion of the party that hasn’t decamped and remains appalled by their party’s monstrosity of a figurehead.

There are a handful of Republicans rumored to be mulling a similar primary challenge to Trump, like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and former Ohio Gov.John Kasich, but both of those candidates have significantly more to lose than Weld if they choose to run. Weld has largely been on the periphery of his party and hasn’t held office in nearly two decades, such that he doesn’t have much of a career to ruin at this point. He can fight the good fight and bow out gracefully. Hogan and certainly Kasich harbor aspirations for higher office, which taking on the leader of the party—and losing—would surely decimate, barring another sudden shift in the GOP party dynamics away from rampant nativism and marauding jingoism. Weld is no stranger to Trump’s rearview mirror, as he ran as the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2016 alongside former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.