“Voters in Missouri deserve better than the extreme and divisive choices offered to them by the two major parties in this race,” Wood said in a statement.
“Missouri deserves better. Missouri needs another option,” Wood added. “Missouri is at a crossroads, and my candidacy offers a common-sense alternative to the crazy extremes both sides are offering in this race.”
Independent candidates have generally struggled to garner support, but Wood, who calls himself a ‘conservative’ and ‘lifetime’ Republican, could face a unique situation in the red state if former Gov. Eric Greitens wins. the GOP Senate nomination.
“I look forward to launching this campaign focused on uniting our state and country rather than the extremist, even violent, view of likely candidates from both parties,” Wood said in the statement. “I’m in this race to win it and I’m confident on our way to victory in November.”
Wood also has the backing of a powerful ally, former Missouri GOP Sen. John Danforth, who set up a super PAC, Missouri Stands United, to support him. Danforth told CNN the organization raised more than $5 million and it was “reasonable to expect” the group would spend more than $20 million on the race.
“He’s by far the most skilled person in the race,” Danforth said of Wood. “By his background, by his disposition, by his brains, by everything – he is highly qualified.”
“It’s important to have an independent candidacy because both parties appealed almost exclusively to people who voted in the primaries,” Danforth added. “The result of this is that the center of American politics has been cut off. This is an opportunity to restore the center, and this is an opportunity to show the whole country that we need to move away from extreme polarization, of division, which characterizes politics today.”
Prior to joining the House panel, Wood worked as general counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, and in private practice. He previously held several high-ranking positions in the George W. Bush administration: chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, assistant general counsel in the Office of Management and Budget, and adviser to Attorney General John Ashcroft. He also worked for United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and worked as a staffer at Danforth in the early 1990s.
To qualify for the Nov. 8 ballot, Wood must submit 10,000 signatures to the office of the Missouri secretary of state by Aug. 1.
This story was updated with additional developments on Wednesday.