Posted by on June 21, 2022 5:35 pm
Categories: News The Hill

Jan. 6 committee counsel urged to run for Senate in Missouri as independent

Activists are pushing for a lead investigator on the House Jan. 6 select committee to mount an independent campaign for the Senate seat in Missouri. 

John F. Wood, a former federal prosecutor who has been serving as the committee’s senior investigative counsel, is being urged to run to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R), multiple outlets are reporting. Supporters propose Wood as a more bipartisan, center-right option to the current slate of Republican candidates. 

Former Sen. Jack Danforth (R-Mo.) told the nonprofit news organization Missouri Independent in February that he was looking for a centrist Republican to run for the seat and is now voicing support for Wood to be the candidate. 

Danforth told The Hill in an interview on Thursday that he believes Wood would be “absolutely terrific” as a senator. He said Wood spent a year working in Danforth’s Senate office before going to law school. 

Danforth, who represented Missouri in the Senate from 1976 to 1995, said this allowed him to get to know Wood and his abilities, adding that Wood has a “good heart” and a lot of experience. 

Wood held a range of positions in former President George W. Bush’s administration, serving as deputy associate attorney general at the Justice Department and top legal roles in the Office of Management and Budget and Department of Homeland Security. He also has served as a U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri. 

Wood has worked with the Jan. 6 committee since September and conducted questioning of J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge, for one of the committee’s public hearings. 

“Absolutely he would be my ideal for an independent candidate,” Danforth said, adding that an independent is needed because both political parties have “gone off the rails” and so has the country because of the intense polarization of politics. 

“I really do believe that our historic purpose in our country and simply holding us together as one country is one that has to be renewed,” Danforth said. 

He said within a political party, a candidate is just appealing to their base at the expense of the rest of the country, and a restoration of “the center” is needed. He added that this is the purpose of a super PAC he created, to help unite the country and reduce the level of divisiveness that impacts American politics. 

He said the person sent to the Senate should be someone who wants to work across the political aisle and “restore civility” to politics. 

More than two dozen candidates are currently running in the Democratic and Republican primaries for the Senate seat, which will be held on Aug. 2. Top Republican contenders include Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens. 

Greitens made headlines Monday after releasing an ad in which he asked voters to go “RINO hunting,” an acronym for Republican in Name Only. Facebook removed the ad for violating the platform’s policies on “violence and incitement.” 

A group called John Wood for Missouri has also come together to set up a website to encourage him to run, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Danforth said he is not involved with that effort but was pleased to see others supporting Wood’s potential candidacy. 

He said he has not spoken to Wood for a couple of months but expects him to run. He said if Wood does run, he believes he will win because he would be “by far” the most qualified candidate and would be a unifier instead of a divider. 

Danforth said Wood’s campaign would be well-funded by Danforth’s super PAC, giving him access to resources that are not typically available for most independent candidates. 

He said he also has confidence from polling that shows that Missouri general election voters believe the country is overly polarized and neither party represents them well. 

The Missouri Independent reported in February that Danforth enlisted a polling firm to see if an independent candidate could perform well in the state. The results showed a generic Republican and Democratic nominee each would receive 31 percent of the vote, while a Republican-leading independent would receive 28 percent. 

Danforth added that the election could have implications beyond the state and send a message to the entire country that politics “is off the rails.” 

“When politics is off the rails, America is off the rails,” he said. “So let’s get back on track.” 

Wood could not be reached for comment.

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