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With Greitens defeated, John Wood abandons his independent run for U.S. Senate in Missouri

Closeup of a man wearing glasses, speaking at a microphone and gesturing. He is sitting behind a small plaque that reads "counsel."
Susan Walsh
John Wood, committee investigative staff counsel, questions the witnesses as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.

While he acknowledged disagreements with both Republican nominee Eric Schmitt and Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, the former federal prosecutor says there's no "realistic path to victory" for him as an independent.

Despite assurances that the outcome of the Republican U.S. Senate primary would not alter his plans to run as an independent, John Wood announced Tuesday he was ending his campaign.

The reason: Former Gov. Eric Greitens did not win the GOP nomination.

“I made the decision to run for the United States Senate when Eric Greitens was the favorite for the Republican nomination,” Wood said in an email to supporters. “That would have been unacceptable, embarrassing, and dangerous for my party, my state and my country.”

Missouri “no longer faces the risk of Greitens as our next U.S. Senator,” Wood said.

While he acknowledged significant differences of opinion with both Republican nominee Eric Schmitt and Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, “it has become evident there is not a realistic path to victory for me as an independent candidate.”

Wood’s departure from the race comes three weeks after he submitted signatures in the hopes of getting on the November ballot.

At the urging of his political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, Wood stepped down from a position as an investigator for the Congressional committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection to move back to Missouri to pursue a run for Senate.

Danforth had spent months trying to recruit a Republican to run as an independent because he felt every GOP candidate seeking the nomination was too extreme.

In addition to supporting Wood publicly, Danforth created a super PAC to support his candidacy and vowed to raise $20 million to get Wood elected.

Danforth could not be immediately reached for comment on Wood’s decision.

As recently as last week, Wood was publicly criticizing Schmitt, saying in an interview with KCUR that the GOP nominee was “entirely beholden to Donald Trump.” And he told the Kansas City Star that setting aside Greitens’ “personal flaws” he didn’t see much difference between the former governor and Schmitt.

“They’re both embracing the extreme divisive rhetoric and symbolism,” Wood told the Star.

In his Tuesday email announcing he was no longer running, Wood promised to continue to fight to preserve democracy.

“I will continue to stand up for our democratic republic,” he said, “and oppose those who prioritize party and self-interest over the needs of our country however I can.”

This story was originally published on Missouri Independent.

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.
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