Republican William Weld launches primary challenge against Trump

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R) officially launched a long-shot primary challenge against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE on Monday.

Weld, the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 2016, did not mention Trump in a statement announcing his candidacy.

“In these times of great political strife, when both major parties are entrenched in their ‘win at all cost’ battles, the voices of the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering,” Weld said.

“It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln – equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight,” he added. 

Weld faces nearly impossible odds in his quest to defeat Trump in the Republican primary.

Trump’s presidential campaign raised more than $30 million in the first quarter of 2019 and has more than $40 million on hand. A recent Gallup survey found that 89 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of the president.

The Republican National Committee has taken steps to head off a potential primary challenger, voting to express its “undivided support” for the president. And the Trump campaign has been staffing up with party insiders to map out a delegates strategy to ensure there are no surprises at the 2020 convention.

A group of “Never Trump” Republicans led by Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol have been holding meetings about recruiting a primary challenger against Trump. They have not decided on a potential challenger but do not view Weld as a top recruit.

Some Republicans remain hopeful that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) will jump into the primary against Trump.

Still, the effort to deny Trump the GOP nomination would be a long shot, even if the “Never Trump” Republicans land one of their top prospects.

Kristol led the doomed effort to recruit a conservative challenger in 2016 once it became clear that Trump would win the GOP nomination. At one point, Kristol hoped to recruit former U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, who went on to become Trump’s chief of staff.

The “Never Trump” Republicans ultimately failed to land a top-tier candidate and turned to David French, a lawyer and writer for the National Review, who had little name recognition outside elite conservative media circles. French passed on a presidential run.

At the 2016 Republican National Convention, a small but vocal group of Republicans sought to sabotage the proceedings and replace Trump on the ticket. Their last-ditch effort fizzled.

And former CIA operative and Republican consultant Evan McMullin launched a long-shot protest candidacy that pulled 21 percent of the vote in his home state of Utah but otherwise failed to cut into Trump’s support. Trump is unpopular in deep-red Utah but still won the state easily.