Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article included a snapshot from a financial disclosure form. However, the financial disclosure was from 2013, and not Cheney’s recent re-election bid.
Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt is heading to a general election against Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine to fill an open Senate seat that the GOP needs to keep control of.
Schmitt is the favorite to win in the largely Republican state, but there are efforts underway to cost the GOP the seat by backing an independent candidate named John Wood. But Wood isn’t just some random guy out there to spoil the race. He’s an ally of Liz Cheney and other NeverTrump Republicans, to the point where he was actually brought on to work for the January 6 Committee.
The House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has hired John F. Wood, a former U.S. attorney and a member of the George W. Bush administration, as its top legal adviser.
Why it matters: The decision is part of a continued effort to make the committee nonpartisan and follows the elevation of Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney to serve as vice chairwoman on the panel.
And, in fact, Cheney personally praised his work.
“John is an incredibly talented attorney, one of the most competent individuals I’ve worked with,” Cheney said in a phone interview. Wood worked with Cheney’s husband, Philip Perry, when both men served in various capacities during the administration of President George W. Bush. Most recently, Wood was the general counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve known John for a long time … I knew he could bring commitment to country and wisdom to this important duty.”
This is all part of a larger NeverTrump effort in Missouri. Another politician in the state, Sen. John “Jack” Danforth, made it a point to push and endorse Wood’s independent run back when it looked like disgraced former governor Eric Greitens (whose campaign was being run by President Donald Trump’s future daughter-in-law Kimberly Guilfoyle) might win the Republican primary. Danforth is one of the most NeverTrump politicians in the state, but even though Greitens lost the primary to Schmitt, he’s not letting up.
The political action committee backing independent Senate candidate John Wood is “in it to win it,” former Sen. Jack Danforth said a day after the PAC spent another $750,000 on TV ads to run before the Aug. 2 primary.
Danforth contributed $5 million on June 6 to Missouri Stands United, and by June 24 ads featuring Danforth talking about the need for a new path were on the air in Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City.
The ad buy on Monday, bringing television spending by the PAC to $2.2 million, was entirely in Kansas City and St. Louis markets. The PAC has spent more than any candidate committee and is third in TV spending in the Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.
Danforth says it’s not a spoiler race, but that’s clearly what Wood’s impact could be.
Wood was senior investigative counsel for the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol prior to his decision to run for the Senate.
The path to victory for Wood, Danforth said, is to make the future of democracy the main issue.
The ads from Missouri Stands United emphasize that democracy is at risk from extremism in both major parties.
That message transcends views on any particular issue and can unite Republicans, Democrats and independent voters, Danforth said.
“Make the future of democracy the main issue” is not a Republican line. That’s a Democrat line directly attacking Trump and Trump voters. It’s an admission that this is more about punishing Trump and Trump’s supporters than anything else. If you want to support conservative causes, endorse and support Schmitt. If you want to try and cost conservatives the election, you support an independent who will try to draw Republican votes away.
Luckily, nothing in polling data suggests that Wood’s impact will be enough to cost Schmitt, but it doesn’t make the latter’s job any easier.
So, even if Liz Cheney isn’t going back to Washington D.C. as a Representative, her impact is still being felt in other races that could hurt the Republican Party. And for the NeverTrump politicians who can’t seem to move on, that’s all this is about. Punish the party, punish their voters.