MASSACHUSETTS – Former failed U.S. Senate candidate and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee Bill Weld, 73, has officially declared he is seeking the GOP nomination against President Donald Trump. Weld most recently served two terms as Massachusetts governor in the 1990s and was a strategist/adviser for Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 presidential campaign.
An RNC spokesperson told Accuracy in Media, “President Trump enjoys unprecedented support among Republicans. He has already delivered a long list of incredible accomplishments for conservatives and the country. The RNC and the Republican Party are firmly behind the president. Any effort to challenge the president’s nomination is bound to go absolutely nowhere.”
Weld’s announcement comes on the heels of the Trump campaign raising a massive $30 million in the first three months of the year, and the RNC raised $45.8 million. The campaign started fundraising and its re-election efforts the day after President Trump’s inauguration. Combined, President Trump has $76.1 million and $82 million cash on hand to secure re-election. Small dollar donors have been and continue to be the bread and butter of the campaign. According to the Trump campaign, the average donation was $34.26.
A primary opponent has not challenged the sitting president since George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Weld faces a steep uphill battle against Trump and the RNC. Most importantly, he also faces courting Republican voters who are happy with Trump and his message. Post-Mueller report Trump’s approval rating is at a 45 percent high according to a recent April poll by Gallup. Weld will also have to find a balancing act and walk back his endorsement of Hillary Clinton in 2016, if he plans to gain any traction with GOP voters.
In Weld’s 3:21 announcement video, Weld began with the images of “Tax-achusetts” as a state near bankruptcy, under control of a corrupt Democratic machine, and no Republican representation for 20 years. The video cuts to images of Weld and a voiceover highlighting his accomplishments for the Commonwealth before cutting to Trump controversial moments.
In January, the RNC issued a nonbinding resolution declaring the party’s full support for Trump. In addition to the resolution and Trump’s massive war chest, Weld will have to play catch up in grassroots efforts and data.
The RNC and the Trump campaign have already hired state directors in key states and have joined forces with America Rising PAC to place a full staff of video trackers for Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina to watch Democrat primary challengers.
As for RNC data, the party will continue to support Trump’s campaign. The party has invested more than $250 million since 2013 and has continually relied on the Data Trust as a trusted vendor and extension of the RNC’s voter files. The RNC’s data powerhouse was not built overnight, but instead a strategic decision by leaders at the top to build up a proper infrastructure to elect GOP candidates. The need for a data warehouse and a clear understanding for data scores started with former RNC Chairman and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
OTHER MASSACHUSETTS CHALLENGERS
From the other side of the aisle, newly re-elected U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the first presidential challenger to declare from Massachusetts. Warren raised $6 million in the first quarter but has a large sea of primary challengers including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and newcomer Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
DEMOCRATS’ FIRST-QUARTER EARMARKS
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg reported raising $7 million in the first quarter.
- Former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rouke who challenged Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and lost by a healthy margin raised a whopping $6.1 million the first day he announced.
- US Senator Bernie Sanders raised $18.2 million and reported an average donation of $20.
- Current US Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former California Attorney General raked in $12 million in the first three months of 2019 and has promised not to accept PAC money.
- Cory Booker (D-N.J.) former mayor and current U.S. Senator’s campaign has raised more than $5 million since announcing.
- Businessman Andrew Yang’s campaign said he raised $1.7 million and averaged a small-dollar contribution amount of $17.92.
Marissa Martinez is a political contributor at Accuracy in Media. She is the former political director to Massachusetts Governor Baker’s re-election campaign, alumna of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and current political consultant to national PACs. Follow her stories, @MarissaAlisa.
Photo by marcn