The sixth district congressional race has grow to be a window into the fight over the way forward for the Republican Party and its deep inner divisions within the aftermath of the lethal January 6 Capitol assault and Trump’s try and overturn the outcomes of the election. It’s a fight on observe to outline what the celebration stands for within the years to return, together with what excessive and harmful concepts it is keen to embrace and at what price.
The particular election will function a take a look at case for a way a lot traction an anti-Trump, anti-conspiracy concept message can get in a crimson district. But the truth that just one Republican candidate is denouncing Trump and conspiracy theories underscores how agency a maintain the previous President nonetheless has on his celebration.
“I’m afraid for the future of the country,” Wood stated in an interview with NCS. The Marine fight veteran describes himself as a conservative Republican who reluctantly voted for Trump in 2020, however turned satisfied he was unfit to steer the celebration after his lies concerning the election provoked the Capitol assault.
“I felt like I had to stand up. Somebody needed to stand up and say, this isn’t what the Republican party should be, and we’ve got to go in a different direction,” he stated.
The anti-Trump candidate believes he shall be vindicated, if not now then in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later.
“I think the party is going to get to where I am eventually,” Wood stated. “I want that to happen without having to lose and lose and lose. Political parties sometimes only get the message they need to try something different after a string of losses. I think we should do that now as opposed to doing it after we lose in the midterms or lose another presidential election,” he stated.
The pro-Trump candidates within the race have a really completely different outlook on the celebration’s future.
A crowded subject and a long-shot marketing campaign
The particular election is uncommon in that each Republicans and Democrats are competing on the identical poll. There are 23 candidates in whole with a breakdown of 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, one Libertarian and one unbiased. If no candidate wins greater than 50% of the vote on May 1, the race will advance to a runoff between the 2 candidates who obtain probably the most votes.
The district has been in Republican arms for years, however the GOP margin of victory has steadily declined on the presidential degree in latest elections. In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the district with a 17% margin. Trump received it by 12% in 2016 and solely 3% final 12 months.
Even so, Wood is extensively considered as working a long-shot marketing campaign dealing with robust odds.
“Anything’s possible with such a crowded field, but I don’t think there’s much indication that a large chunk of Republican voters are clamoring for an avowedly anti-Trump option right now — even in a district where Republican performance has dipped in the Trump era,” Kyle Kondik, an election analyst on the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics informed NCS.
Mirroring a actuality on the nationwide degree the place most congressional Republicans have stayed loyal to the previous President, nearly the entire GOP candidates within the particular election have tied themselves to Trump to various levels.
Sery Kim, one other Trump administration official within the race who served as an assistant administrator on the Small Business Administration, informed NCS that Trump stays “the center of the universe” for the GOP. “He is the most powerful voice in the Republican Party and his policies are what people want,” she stated.
In some situations, GOP candidates have forged doubt on the integrity of the 2020 election or tried to rewrite the historical past of the January 6 Capitol assault by a violent pro-Trump mob.
“On January 6, people come to me all the time, they say, ‘Big Dan Rodimer, what would you have done differently?’ Well, you know what? I wouldn’t have been hiding under my desk like all the other folks. I would have been out there, walking to the very, very front, top of the stairs saying, ‘hey, the fact is we are all Americans. We want fair and free elections,'” he stated.
Kim stated of the Capitol assault, “Who knows who was in that crowd? No one knows.”
“That’s what the media is saying is that 100% of the people there were Trump people,” she stated. “You know DC, people are curious when they see a lot of people walking around. They join in to go in. You see people who are anti-Trump go to Trump rallies to incite Trump supporters as well.”
Wood has heard an identical message on the marketing campaign path and pushes again towards it.
“Nancy Pelosi did not charter a whole bunch of buses to bring in Antifa to the Capitol to break in the windows to create some sort of false flag operation to make the Republican Party look bad,” he stated.
Reflecting on his outlier standing within the race, Wood stated that at one level he requested a pal, “Why am I being accused of being sort of a fringe candidate because I’m against insurrection?”
A fight for the soul of the GOP
“There is a hardcore MAGA group within the Republican Party that does get very upset with me,” he stated. “I’ve had people who were actually there on January 6 come up to me shaking mad that I’m saying the sort of things that I’m saying about that day and also about President Trump.”
Wood believes that Trump has taken benefit of the patriotism of Republican voters and manipulated them into believing conspiracy theories and lies, together with that the election was illegitimate, to the purpose that many can be keen to help an tried authorities overthrow.
“I still believe in America, and I still believe that America is filled with good patriotic people, but I have come across a number of individuals who seem to love this country so much that they want to destroy it,” he stated. “They love the Constitution so much that they’re willing to get rid of it in sort of a weird twisted way.”
The GOP candidate believes, nonetheless, that “about 30 to 35% of the party” is open to his message. “They’ve been incredibly receptive. Even if it’s in hushed tones after events, they come up to me afterwards and say, ‘thank you for saying this,'” he stated.
The path the Republican Party takes subsequent and the extent to which it continues to embrace Trump may go a great distance in figuring out which voters it is going to entice and who it is going to repel. The celebration might have a possibility to develop its coalition if it distances itself from the previous President.
Terri Davis, a Black girl who voted for Wood final Saturday throughout early voting right here, informed NCS she tends to vote for Democrats, however is not a straight celebration line voter and favored that he is a Republican who believes “the party is going in a direction that is not healthy for our country” and desires to alter that route.
She would “never support somebody who supports Trump,” but when there’s “a Republican who has a good message, who has a good platform, I will listen.”
Davis stated that it is exhausting to see a lot “hate in the country right now,” and lamented that “it just feels like truth doesn’t matter. That I just can’t take — that truth doesn’t matter.”
JP Woodruff, a a Rodimer supporter, informed NCS he helps the pro-Trump candidate as a result of he “represents truth and freedom, constitutional truth, and that’s something we’re lacking right now in the left-wing cabal state.”
Asked what he meant by “left-wing cabal state,” Woodruff stated, “truth is no longer being represented in our Constitution and our politicians in Washington right now and that goes for both right and left.”
Kinzinger, one of many 10 House Republicans who voted to question Trump after January 6, has endorsed Wood within the particular election and hopes the race will finally ship a message concerning the significance of reality.
“The most important thing is to show folks that there’s nothing wrong with telling the truth, there’s nothing wrong with being honest with the voters and no matter how it ends up, it’s what needs to happen in the future,” Kinzinger informed NCS after a gathering with Wood right here in Texas on Monday.
“It’s important to show folks that there are people, even if it’s kind of a David and Goliath fight, there are people that are going to back you and that want you to win if you do the hard thing,” he stated.
Kinzinger believes that voters who consider the election was stolen or that Antifa stormed the Capitol “are not unreachable,” however he acknowledges there is a lengthy highway forward in making an attempt to interrupt via.
“Part of winning them back is you have to look at how long did it take them to basically get to believe that this was all fake,” he stated. “It takes time, it takes effort, it takes words, and you can’t just say it’s not worth the fight if we can’t be successful immediately.”
NCS’s Adam Levy, Jeremy Moorhead and Cassie Spodak contributed to this report.