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Former Mass. Gov. Bill Weld, an Early Champion of High Standards, Seeks to Challenge Trump for GOP Nomination

By Alyson Klein — February 15, 2019 1 min read
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Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, a Republican, is exploring a challenge to President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination in 2020.

Weld served as governor of the Bay State from 1991 to 1997. He ran for vice-president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016, with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson at the top of the ticket. He rejoined the GOP recently.

In making his announcement, Weld pushed for a smaller federal footprint in K-12, including eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, according to published reports.

As governor of Massachusetts, Weld signed the state’s landmark Education Reform Act, which sought to bolster standards and accountability while providing a substantial boost to public school spending. The standards put in place by that legislation were long considered among the most rigorous in the nation. And in 1993, he also signed an at-the-time ground-breaking law prohibiting discrimination against gay and lesbian students in the public schools.

In 2010, when Massachusetts was mulling new assessments aligned to the newly adopted Common Core State Standards, Weld said it would be “madness” to eliminate the state’s signature standardized test, the MCAS. (The state did use the Common-Core aligned PARCC tests for a while, but has switched back to MCAS).

In 2005, Weld served as the chief executive of Decker College in Kentucky. When he stepped down, the college faced bankruptcy and had clashed with the U.S. Department of Education on accreditation of certain courses and online learning.

Weld is the first Republican to announce a challenge to Trump, but he may not be the last. Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are all rumored to be mulling a presidential run on the GOP ticket. More on their records here.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld smiles as he talks to a reporter at Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s election night event as the polls close Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 in Boston, MA. --Stephan Savoia/AP

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