An Intra-Party Challenge for Donald Trump

The Story:

William Weld, a Harvard and Oxford alum who served two terms as Governor of Massachusetts in the 1990s, announced last week that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 2020. This is a long-shot effort, since the presumptive favorite for that nomination is clearly the incumbent President, Donald Trump.

Background:

During the second term of the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Weld was for two years the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. He resigned from that position as a protest against what he considered improper conduct by his boss, Attorney General Edwin Meese. Weld’s distaste with the Powers That Be in the national Republican Party has only grown since then. Indeed, in 2016 he was the Vice Presidential candidate of another party, the Libertarian Party.  

In announcing his campaign for President last week, Governor Weld said: “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. So I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t raise my hand and run.”

The Thing to Know:

One has to go back to the years before the US Civil War to find an instance of a challenger stopping a sitting President outright at a party’s nominating convention. Stephen Douglas did prevent President Franklin Pierce from securing the renomination of the Democratic Party in 1856. Even then, though, Douglas couldn’t secure the nomination for himself, either. He could attain only a deadlock, and James Buchanan picked up the pieces. The odds against Weld are monumental.   

 

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