Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has announced an exploratory committee to run for president as a Republican in 2020, potentially triggering a GOP primary.
This means that President Trump is the first sitting president since George H.W. Bush to have a challenger from within his own party. And history shows that Trump stands a significant chance of losing his re-election bid now that he has to first win a primary.
Weld, who is 73, appeared on the libertarian presidential ticket in 2016 with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. His announcement of an exploratory committee comes on the same day President Trump announced he was declaring a national emergency to build a border wall.
“I think our country is in grave peril, and I cannot side any longer quietly on the sidelines,” Weld said during a speech in Bedford, New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first presidential primary. “We have a president whose priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than toward the good of the country.”
No incumbent president has had to win a primary in their re-election bid since 1992, when Pat Buchanan challenged President Bush for the Republican nomination. Bush went on to lose to Bill Clinton the following November. As CBS News reported, presidents who face primary challengers often lose to the opposing party. The last sitting president to win a primary as well as the general election was Richard Nixon in 1972, though he famously resigned from office the following year due to the Watergate Scandal.
Aside from Weld, Trump may also face primary challenges from former two-term Ohio Governor John Kasich, who ran a spirited campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who was just re-elected to a second term in November, is also rumored to be a potential primary challenger in 2020.
As of this writing, Trump has not yet tweeted anything about Weld, or the possibility of having to run against other Republican candidates in 2020.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.