A popular Republican governor has quietly signaled his support for Bill Weld, a Republican primary challenger to Donald Trump, Politico reports. Vermont Governor Phil Scott indicated his support for Weld as a primary challenge to the sitting president during a news conference on Thursday. The remark was far from a formal endorsement, but does serve as an early indication that members of the Republican establishment may be starting to consider breaking ranks with Trump.
During the news conference, Scott was asked if he would prefer Weld over Trump as president. Weld is so far the only declared primary challenger on the Republican side, in sharp contrast to the more than 20 contenders vying for the spot among Democrats.
“Oh sure,” Scott said simply in response to the question. Though it does seem as if the statement may have more to do with his feelings about Trump than with his feelings about Weld.
“I like Larry Hogan… Charlie Baker, maybe he’ll run,” Scott added, referring to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, whose names have each been floated as additional potential challengers to the incumbent president.
This is far from the first statement Scott has made in defiance of Trump. He has frequently criticized Trump, and in 2016, he stated clearly that he would not vote for him. Baker and Hogan, similarly, have also kept their distance from the president.
Bill WELD gets some preferential treatment from Vermont Gov. PHIL SCOTT here. Scott, when asked if he'd back Weld over Trump, says "yes." https://t.co/6PBMdAZCEH— Daniel Strauss (@DanielStrauss4) May 17, 2019
According to Morning Consult, the top 10 most popular governors in the country are all Republicans, with Scott, Baker, and Hogan each near the top of the list. Baker is, in fact, at the top of the list, according to that report, with Hogan in second, and Scott coming in fifth behind New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.
Between Baker and Hogan, while each are mentioned frequently as potential challengers to Trump, Hogan has been the one to show the most interest. Hogan has gone as far as to speak publicly about how he might broach a challenge to his party’s president, an effort that to many Republicans would be tantamount to a betrayal of the party.
The Republican National Committee has actively worked to block such a primary challenge. The group passed a formal resolution this past winter expressing their “undivided support” for the president.
Stuart Stevens, an advisor to Weld, welcomed Scott’s small demonstration of support.
“I think it’s great,” he said in response to Scott’s comments. “Phil Scott has been a real insistent voice on Trump and has taken a lot of heat for it in his own party.”