Gov. Weld was Before My Time. Care to Educate Me?

I moved up here in 2001, so I’m still learnin’ my history. Reading the point-counterpoint in today’s Globe on the possibility of ex-Gov Weld running for the possibly ex-Senator Kerry’s seat led to me a few online sources in search of background, but I’d be very interested in the BMG take on Weld’s tenure as Governor, ensuing wins and losses, and prospects as a GOP candidate. Thanks.


12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. To begin with,

    see the old (2007) post that I just bumped up to the front page. It’s one of my favorites. :)

  2. Weld was a Massachusetts Republican...

    …the kind who would be a New Democrat just about anywhere else. He was popular, cruised to re-election in 1994, and gave Kerry a bit of a race in 1996. He was a social liberal and fiscal conservative.

  3. Gifted intellectually

    Bill Weld is a smart guy. After graduating from the Middlesex School, he was summa cum laude undergraduate at Harvard. He studied economics at Oxford and graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School.
    He also has a good sense of humor and doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s long been my type of Republican, we need more like him in the party.

  4. He was the first of a string of Republcan governors

    to grow bored mid term and check out. He trashed local aid (with the cooperation of the legislature) and launched two decades of property-tax hikes in the Commonwealth.

    I disparage the myth of the Republican moderate, which both Romney and Brown tried to exploit in the last election, but it’s at least arguable that Weld was the real deal in the department.

  5. A few things you need to know...

    I moved up here in 2001, so I’m still learnin’ my history. Reading the point-counterpoint in today’s Globe on the possibility of ex-Gov Weld running for the possibly ex-Senator Kerry’s seat led to me a few online sources in search of background, but I’d be very interested in the BMG take on Weld’s tenure as Governor, ensuing wins and losses, and prospects as a GOP candidate. Thanks.

    William Weld is a smug campaigneer and peerless glad-hander who likes to foster the impression that he’s P J O’Rourkes cooler, funnier older brother. He ran to the left of the Democratic nominee, John Silber, in 1990 and to the right of a churchmouse, Mark Roosevelt, in 1994. His most noted accomplishment in office was to spread 5 minutes of actual governance over some six years. He’s a truly gifted campaigner with absolutely zero interest in actually doing the job… kinda like souped up version of Mitt Romney, but without the smile that hurts to look at. After an unsuccessful run at Sen Kerry’s seat in 1996, Weld just kinda wandered off the reservation and wasn’t missed until people noticed Paul Celluci had already moved in: ordinarily, this might have been indicative of some political upheaval but since he never really got invested in the job nobody really missed him when he was gone. Celluci made no mark, whatsoever, upon the CommonWealth and was soon rescued (sic) with an ambassadorship to Canada whereupon he bequeathed the governorship to Jane (not so) Swift who was elbowed out by Willard (Mitt) Rmoney in 2001. Thereupon the utterly feckless Weld Administration, after a long drawn out illness, was finally dead.

    Since his tenure, Weld has occasionally popped up in the news with a bad novel, flirtation with the gubernatorial campaign in NY, a messy divorce and studious inconsistencies regarding his memory of the Big Dig.

    Frankly, I’d sooner vote for Scott Brown for President… and I hate Scott Brown… than I would for Bill Weld for dogcatcher.

    • Don't forget his briefly famous "no tax" year

      In his 1991 campaign, the very wealthy Mr. Weld ended up with, as I recall, a federal tax obligation of zero.

      As I recall, he took a mortgage on the spacious Cambridge mansion he owned in order to provide cash for one of his campaigns. He then used the standard mortgage deduction (it was rather large) to eliminate his tax obligation altogether.

      In an earlier, more naive time than today, such flagrant (and public) exploitation of the tax code was shocking enough to provide several days of front-page coverage.

      In the glare of the spotlight, Mr. Weld (having won his campaign) followed in the footsteps of the estimable Kevin White, acknowledged his “mistake”, and filed an amended return.

  6. A couple observations about Weld

    From the late David Nyhan of the Globe.

    9/27/95: Weld Guilty of Criminal Pandering

    For a few bucks under $30,000 a year, Massachusetts taxpayers keep one convict behind bars, giving him or her free rent, meals and medical care, plus paying for all kinds of staff.

    For the same money, the same taxpayers could provide free tuition for seven students at UMass or one of 20-odd state campuses. Which is the better deal for our state’s future? The college tuition deal? Not if you’re Gov. Weld.

    He wants to put your money where his mouth is: bonding for $705 million to build more prison cells, which are dear to his heart. He’s asking for a lot less than that — under $500 million — to fix the decaying state college plants, which were left to wither as the state scaled back its higher-education investment 26 percent in the last decade.

    12/4/96: On Weld’s budget priorities.

    Weld has systematically strip-mined the state’s human services larder. He shipped 300 prisoners to Texas to store them more cheaply there. He routinely vilifies the convicts, welfare recipients and homeless, whom he holds up as examples of unworthy chiselers mooching off the taxpayer. Nobody hollered longer or louder about welfare mothers ripping off the system.

    Now he’s about to demand that homeless parents be stripped of welfare money if they don’t have jobs. Notice a trend here? The systematic taking away of government money for the poor, the derelict, the imprisoned, the mentally ill, the homeless? At a time when the economy is booming, the state has a small fortune in its rainy-day fund, and the Dow Jones average is as high as the unemployment rate is low?

  7. I liked him a lot

    Unmentioned here is the greatest purely political acheivement in recent Massachusetts history: engineering the separation of Billy Bulger from the legislature, even though in our awful system the legislative leadership wields more actual power than does the governor. That, alone, means he left our government in better condition than he found it.

    Unfortunately the Democrats in the legislature chose not to avail themselves of the opportunity to curtail the power of the legislative leadership, which is a shame.

  8. ...and he created the Big Dig fiasco

    I got two words for you: James Kerasiotes

    • Kerasiotes

      I remember talking with a Republican activist who had worked hard for Weld in his first campaign because he thought Weld would get rid of the old grafters and grifters in the party. When Weld tapped Kerasiotes for yet another state job, this guy was disgusted and withdrew all his support.

      That was a long time ago but an interesting moment for me.

  9. I held my nose and voted for Weld in 1990

    because John Silber was worse. I am a liberal Democrat and considered Weld to be the lesser of two evils. Still not sure if I did the right thing. I did NOT vote for him in 1994 (his re-election) or 1996 (for Senate against Kerry) and would never vote for him again.

    I agree with pretty much everything that the late great David Nyhan said in his columns quoted above by hesterprynne.

    I also recall him making a great show of taking down a toll booth on the MA Turnpike extension. Of course tolls have continued to rise since then.

    As noted above, his positions on criminal justice issues were and no doubt still are utterly contemptible, and they included a fortunately unsuccessful campaign to bring the death penalty back to MA.

    Yet compared to the radical extremists in charge of the GOP today, I suppose you could call him some kind of “moderate.”

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Tue 28 Mar 11:51 AM