Amidst all the buzz and speculation, a Massachusetts officeholder (one time, that is) has really made it onto a national party ticket for the 2016 presidential election.
If you guessed six months ago that it would be former Governor William Floyd Weld, you’re smarter than the rest of us.
I and other professional rumor-mongers have fanned speculation of Elizabeth Warren, Deval Patrick, Scott Brown, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney running. There was even a brief online “Draft Dukakis” movement last August. So far, none of their hats are in the ring. But Weld’s is.
Weld, who was Governor of Massachusetts from 1990 to 1997, narrowly won the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nomination this weekend, joining the ticket with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Johnson had announced Weld as his preferred running-mate last week, in a sudden resurgence of Weld’s national image.
Weld stirred up talk of running for U.S. Senate — ironically, for the seat John Kerry was finally leaving, to become Secretary of State — when he moved back to Massachusetts in late 2012.
Since then, Weld has rejoined Bay State political circles as Principal of ML Strategies, one of the state’s top lobbying firms. He works there for one of his former cabinet secretaries, Steven Tocco, . And while another, Charlie Baker, has become Governor himself.
Still, last week was quite a re-emergence onto the national political scene. The whirlwind week culminated—or bottomed out—with Trump publicly calling Weld an alcoholic, after Weld compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of the Third Reich.
Weld last ran for public office in 2006, when he vied for Governor of New York up until losing out on the Republican Party endorsement at the state convention. That had been his first campaign since losing a challenge to U.S. Senator John Kerry 10 years earlier.
As it happens, Weld actually won the Libertarian Party nomination for Governor in 2006, before dropping out. New York’s voting system makes it common for candidates to seek nomination from more than one party.
So, perhaps it shouldn’t have been too much of a shock that Weld would be open to the endearments of Johnson — whose term as Republican Governor coincided with Weld’s — and the Libertarians.
Meanwhile, he might yet prove to be just the first from the Commonwealth in the Presidential race.
Rumors and speculation continue to circulate about several of the others, presented here in order of likelihood.
Elizabeth Warren Every time it seems certain that the speculation about Warren running nationally has died, it rises yet again.
Warren for VP talk heated up a month ago, as Democrats began worrying about how to lure Bernie Sanders supporters to actively support the Clinton ticket in the fall. Warren, who populist progressives wanted to back for President before they settled for Sanders, would presumably accomplish that. The speculation quieted, however, as liberals argued that Warren is better off remaining where she is in the Senate—and pointed out that Republican Governor Charlie Baker would get to temporarily fill the Senate seat if Warren did become Vice President. Newsweek, Vanity Fair, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Post, and pretty much every other publication ran some form of “it won’t be Warren” column in mid-May.
But wait—she’s back! On May 20th, New York Magazine’s online political blog reported that top Clinton aides are advocating for her to pick Warren. “OK, Enough. Just Pick Warren,” Josh Marshall, editor of influential liberal blog TPM wrote this past Thursday. The next day, a column at Huffington Post this past Friday made “The Case for Elizabeth Warren, Vice President.”
Scott Brown Brown, now a New Hampshire resident, endorsed Donald Trump before that state’s crucial primary, and has continued speaking on his behalf since. That’s no small thing: as a former Senator, Brown was one of a very small number of prominent elected officials to back Trump that early.
That puts the ambitious Brown on many people’s short lists of possible Trump running-mate selections. Over the weekend, he briefly popped up to 6th on the PredictIt.org betting market for GOP Vice Presidential nominee. One odds-making site has Brown at 7/2, behind only Newt Gingrich.
“We’ve long thought that Scott Brown…. Would make sense as a Trump running mate,” Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics in mid-May.
Charles Krauthammer put Brown high on his odds chart, in a May 20 FOX News appearance about Trump’s likely selection. Over on MSNBC, Susan del Percio did the same a few days later. They weren’t the only ones.
The hype seemed to cool a bit, however, over speculation that Trump needs a running-mate more palatable to the religious right—particularly on abortion—than Brown. But, Trump being unpredictable, it’s a fair guess that Brown’s stock will rise and fall a few more times between now and a likely July unveiling of the VP identity.
Mitt Romney You know speculation has picked up steam, when a prominent person in the media reports that it isn’t true. So it was when conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin tweeted Monday night: “Very close to Romney source on a run: No. Not gonna happen.”
Romney, a vocal Trump opponent who has advocated for a Republican—someone other than him—to run a third-party campaign for President. But, in recent weeks, he has seemed to give up on that hope, and specifically declared that he would not run himself.
But, Romney’s longstanding modus operandus of being “drafted” into service against his will makes it all too easy to be skeptical of this denial.
It’s exactly how Romney claimed to have been pulled into running the Winter Olympics (when in fact he had lobbied hard for the job); running for Governor (when in fact he and his team planned a takeover of the party nomination); and running for President (which he had been working toward for years, if not decades).
Time does seem to be running out for a third-party run; filing and signature deadlines are already coming past due. But, while that might make it harder for a third-party Republican-in-exile candidate to win, it’s still possible to get someone on the ballot in important swing states, to both deny crucial votes to Trump and help down-ballot Republican candidates by giving anti-Trump conservatives a reason to come to the polls.
William Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor and leading recruiter for a third-party conservative candidate—who has been touting Romney as an option—tweeted on Saturday that an “impressive” conservative independent Presidential candidate will soon enter the race. Is it Romney? Probably not, but the possibility remains.
Deval Patrick Who the heck knows? Serious publications have reported that the former Massachusetts Governor is on Clinton’s short list. Others have said he isn’t. Patrick, now working at Bain Capital, has made pretty clear that he’s not interested, but that’s the kind of thing lots of running-mates do before they accept the offer—and one could easily imagine him being tempted if Clinton was to come calling.
It’s less easy to imagine that she will. And the speculation, which crested a month ago, has seemd to stay tamped down of late.
John Kerry I see you rolling your eyes. And I agree, this is a crazy triple-bank-shot theory—but it’s out there.
The idea is that if Hillary Clinton’s State Department email story blows up this summer—in the seemingly unlikely scenario that the ongoing FBI investigation results in charges brought against Clinton—she will have to step aside. Her delegates will be unwilling, the theorists continue, to nominate Sanders, who not only has infuriated them but who they believe would be beaten by Trump.
That means they will need to draft someone at the last minute to carry the torch as the Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee—someone already fully vetted and credible as a national candidate, with the stature and gravitas to overcome the strange circumstances.
This theory most often ends with Vice President Joe Biden’s name invoked as the draftee. But on the very short list of people who could fit the need, the most plausible is actually Kerry, a former nominee, near-President, and Secretary of State.
Not that it’s going to happen. But as Weld just showed us, once you’ve been a statewide officeholder in Massachusetts, a national campaign is never completely out of the realm of possibility.