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Former Jan. 6 panel investigator John F. Wood launches run for Senate in Missouri as independent

John F. Wood, who resigned as the lead investigator for the House Jan. 6 committee last week, launched a bid Wednesday to run for U.S. Senate in Missouri as an independent, he confirmed to CBS News.

To get on the ballot, Wood needs to collect 10,000 signatures, or 2% of the number of people who voted in the last Senate election, whichever is less, according to a spokesperson for the Missouri Secretary of State's Office. The deadline is Aug. 1. 

"I really thought it was important there would be a third option," he told CBS News in an interview. 

Wood would be entering the open race for retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blount's seat. In the 50/50 Senate, both parties are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto every seat they can. Wood said he plans to caucus with Republicans if elected, and said polls he has seen have shown an appetite for a mainstream Republican option in the vein of Blount and longtime Sen. John Danforth. Danforth has publicly called for Wood to enter the race. 

Republicans are currently locked in a vicious primary for the seat. Candidates include former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey

Capitol Riot Investigation
John Wood, committee investigative staff counsel, questions Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was also an adviser to Mike Pence, 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. Susan Walsh / AP

Recent polls had Greitens leading, with a poll from CBS affiliate KMOV/Survey USA in May having him up by as much as 9 points. 

Greitens resigned in 2018 while facing an accusation of sexual assault amid an extramarital affair. Since then, his now ex-wife accused him in a court filing of being physically abusive and "unstable." 

Greitens has denied the allegations. 

Wood believes Greitens had the best chance to win the Republican primary, which is being held on Aug. 2. 

"I think America is more divided than its ever been in my lifetime, and nowhere is that more evidence than in Missouri, where my party, the Republican party, seems like it is about to nominate a disgraced former governor who just a few days ago released an ad hunting … members of his own party," Wood said. 

Greitens released an ad earlier this month proclaiming he was going "hunting" for RINOs, or Republicans In Name Only, while holding a gun.  

Leading Democratic candidates include U.S. Marine veteran Lucas Kunce, Anheuser-Busch beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine, and St. Louis businessman Spencer Toder. Wood said the Democratic candidates will follow the direction of leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. 

Both national and state Republicans have been worried about Greitens, and a GOP-affiliate Super PAC called Show Me Values last week launched $1 million worth of ads against Greitens, according to Politico

Former President Donald Trump, who has a mixed record as kingmaker in this year's midterms, has not issued an endorsement. But Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of his son Donald Trump Jr., is the national chair of Greitens campaign, according to Politico

Wood has recently served as the investigative lawyer for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He took center stage during the June 16 public hearing, where he questioned former Vice President Mike Pence's chief counsel Greg Jacob, and conservative attorney Michael Luttig, about a scheme from conservative lawyer John Eastman to put forward alternate electors. Luttig said there was "there was no basis in the Constitution or laws of the United States at all for the theory espoused" by Eastman. 

Wood acknowledged that Trump is still popular in his state, but added that he thought that there are many Trump voters who recognize that what happened on Jan. 6 was a "tragedy and shouldn't be repeated."

Wood said that when he took the job working for the committee, he wasn't thinking of his political future. He said he took the job because it was "the right thing to do."

He left the committee last week. 

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