What happened to Trump’s Fellow Republican Competitor?
Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld expressed an interest in running for President back in February. In April, he publicly announced he was running against President Trump in the 2020 election. Weld is the only Republican challenger to Trump. Oddly, Weld’s campaign has not gained much media attention since the launch. Does the former governor have any better of a chance than the twenty-some Democratic candidates running?
Bill Weld has always been known as a political moderate, navigating politics successfully as a Republican in a very liberal state. In addition to the moderate policies , Weld has a proven track record of working with politicians across the aisle. After serving as governor from 1991–1997, Weld resigned from office to serve as the United States Ambassador to Mexico under Bill Clinton. Though facing a contentious nomination process, Weld had to withdraw his nomination and sought election as governor of New York.
More recently, Weld chose to temporarily abandon the Republican Party and run with Libertarian Gary Johnson in the 2016 election. Many hard-core Libertarians were displeased with the party ticket…generally, most people would not consider Bill Weld as Libertarian. Weld is pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage, and pro-immigration…all popular positions on the Libertarian platform. At the same time, staunch Libertarians found an issue with the candidate. Weld proposed numerous gun control bills as governor, and he is a known supporter of legal Affirmative Actions measures. Besides the endorsement by Gary Johnson, Bill Weld saw a luke-warm reception from the Libertarian Party in 2016. Although the Libertarian Party has not formally announced their strategy for 2020…it is unlikely that Weld can expect their support in his efforts.
Now, he has returned to his moderate Republican roots, which seems to be where the governor belongs. Weld was constantly picking up the slack for Gary Johnson in interview snafus left and right. After easily dodging questions that caught Johnson off guard, it was clear that Weld was a better candidate in representing himself. Honestly, Weld would be an excellent candidate for the Republican Party to square up against Democrats, but he will never energize enough of a grassroots campaign to takedown Trump from within the party….in 2020.
Whether they truly want to or not, Republicans’ grassroot efforts are firing on all cylinders for Trump in this election. Any anti-Trump opposition has the option of over twenty candidates on the Democratic side to choose from. The current dynamic has created a polarization of the upcoming election similiar to what was seen in 2016. The difference is going to be determined by the Democratic Party in the next 5–6 months. There is an anti-Trump energy the party can play to truly run a succesful campaign. Either way, Weld has no room in this race with the current climate. Thus, it’s obvious he has no chance to gain enough traction within the party to truly challenge Trump against Republican voters.
The best case scenario for Weld would be to gain media attention and name recognition nationally. He began to do this with the Gary Johnson campaign…this provided the platform to speak out against Trump to a national audience. I believe he thought running against Trump in this election would continue to build on this momentum.
Unfortunately, I feel this move has almost backfired as Weld has struggled to find strategic traction and media attention. It was admirable what Bill Weld tried to do with this election. Also, I appreciate having a Republican alternative to Donald Trump…but, if Weld wants to see a political career in the future…he needs to play his cards right. Carrying this campaign out against the incumbant President is not going to prove the results he wants. As a career politician, Weld is certainly thinking about the road ahead. I believe his best move would be to drop out of the election and prepare for 2024. Without a fired-up base support from within the party…Weld has no chance of performing any better than he did with Johnson in 2016.