Justice Department employee
William Floyd Weld was born in Smithtown, New York on 31 July 1945, descended from an old "all-American" family that had been prominent in Boston, Massachusetts since the colonial era. Weld graduated from Harvard in 1970 with a law degree, and he served as a counsel with the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment efforts against Richard Nixon. In 1978, he was defeated in his run for Massachusetts Attorney-General, but President Ronald Reagan appointed him US Attorney for Massachusetts in 1981. He helped with the corruption investigations against Boston mayor Kevin White and his supporters during the early 1980s, and he prosecuted corrupt financial institutions. The US Attorney's Office had not lost a single case under Weld by 1983, when The Boston Globe reported on Weld's unparalleled success. In 1986, he was promoted to head the Criminal Justice Division of the Justice Department, and he tried the captured Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on drug trafficking charges. In March 1988, Weld and several other Justice Department employees resigned in protest over Attorney General Edwin Meese's improper conduct. In July 1988, Meese resigned after Weld and Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns testified against him.
Governor of MassachusettsIn 1990, Weld announced his candidacy for Governor of Massachusetts to replace the out-going Democratic incumbent Michael Dukakis. Republicans made up just 14% of Massachusetts' population and had not held the governorship since 1970, but Weld's support of social liberalism made him a viable candidate. Weld supported gay rights, abortion rights, and the legalization of medical marijuana. He faced Democratic Party challenger and Boston University president John Silber during the 1991 election, defeating Silber 50% to 47%. Under Weld, unemployment dropped from 9.6% in 1991 to 6.4% in 1994 and Massachusetts became prosperous, but he laid off thousands of state employees when he privatized many state-owned human services systems. After cutting state spending, the Republican Party lost several seats in the State Senate, and Weld was forced to grant concessions to the Democrats. In 1994, he won reelection with 71% of the vote, the most one-sided election in Massachusetts history; he even carried Boston. In 1995, he announced that he would challenge incumbent Democratic Senator John Kerry for election to the US Senate, but Kerry won the election with 53% of the vote. In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Bill Weld as ambassador to Mexico, but the Republican Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms refused to hold hearings, as he was convinced by Edwin Meese to ruin Weld's chances at becoming ambassador.
Weld worked as a partner in the McDermott Will & Emery law firm at its Boston and Manhattan offices, and he later came to work with Mintz Levin in Boston. In 2006, he sought the Republican nomination for Governor of New York, but he was defeated by John Faso in the primaries. In 2016, Weld endorsed John Kasich as the Republican presidential nominee, but former New Mexico governor and US Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson announced, on 17 May 2016, that Weld was his choice for running mate. The ticket received 3.28% of the popular vote, the highest absolute vote total received by the Libertarian Party.