By Sara Murray, CNN
A super PAC is looking to funnel millions of dollars behind an independent candidate in the race to succeed retiring Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, as conservatives worry over disgraced ex-Gov. Eric Greitens potentially winning the GOP nomination later this summer.
The outside spending group, led by former Republican US Sen. John C. Danforth, has already raised more than $5 million and hopes to spend roughly four times that amount by November, Danforth said in an interview with CNN.
“The message of the super PAC is America is too polarized now and the tactic of both parties in politics is to appeal to the base and to win primary elections,” Danforth said in an interview with CNN. “The center really has been cut out of American politics.”
Danforth said the super PAC was not explicitly designed to recruit John F. Wood — the senior legislative counsel to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021 — to jump into the race. Still, it’s clear Danforth and others in the state believe Wood, a former clerk for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, would be a formidable candidate.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported a separate committee is also looking to entice Wood to join the race.
“I hope it will be John Wood,” Danforth said. “He is so much better qualified by experience, by ability, by temperament than anybody else who’s running for US Senate in Missouri.”
Wood is leaving his position with the committee this week, according to a source familiar. The source said the departure is earlier than expected because Wood is being encouraged to run for Senate.
He did not respond to a request for comment.
Conservatives in the state have grown increasingly concerned about the possibility that Greitens, the former governor, could win the GOP nomination. Greitens resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct in 2018. His ex-wife has also accused Greitens of abusing her and their children. Greitens has denied past allegation of sexual misconduct and the allegations of abuse.
Greitens raised further alarms this week after releasing a violent campaign video posted on social media.
The Greitens campaign feels confident in the former governor’s chances of victory regardless of who else enters the race. A consultant for the Greitens campaign said: “We whole-heartedly encourage any independent candidate to get into this race. We cannot stress enough the more candidates that get into the race, the better.”
The Missouri primary will take place on August 2.
Danforth said his super PAC isn’t designed to serve as a spoiler for any one candidate, but he’s been disheartened by candidates featuring weapons in campaign ads and casting their willingness to fight as a draw for voters.
“The question of polarization, hostility, anger, us-against-them is a problem that affects our entire country,” Danforth said. “We’re saying there must be an alternative.”
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CNN’s Jamie Gangel contributed to this report.