ST. LOUIS — John Wood has dropped out of the Missouri U.S. Senate race less than two months after announcing a campaign as an independent candidate.

Wood will no longer run against Republican Eric Schmitt or Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine for the state’s soon-to-be vacant U.S. seat. The winner of the Nov. 8 general election will join Josh Hawley as Missouri’s second U.S. senator and replace outgoing Sen. Roy Blunt.

Wood released a statement Tuesday announcing he had initially launched his campaign when former Gov. Eric Greitens was the favorite for the Republican nomination. He said circumstances have changed since the primary election, and he’s withdrawing with Greitens no longer in the running for the seat.

“While my campaign for the US Senate is ending, my fight for our democracy is not. I will continue to stand up for our democratic republic and oppose those who prioritize party and self-interest over the needs of our country however I can,” Wood said in a statement Tuesday on his decision to withdraw.

Wood, 52, served as U.S. attorney for Missouri’s Western District from 2007 to 2009 and before that held key roles in the George W. Bush administration. He was working as general counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when he stepped down in September to become senior investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 committee.

Wood received 22,000 signatures on a petition to launch a campaign as an independent candidate. Despite his push, he said his campaign would have dealt with challenges in the November general election.

“While I have significant differences of opinion with both the Republican and Democratic nominees, it has become evident there is not a realistic path to victory for me as an independent candidate,” Wood said. “While my candidacy is ending, my commitment to these causes endures. I will continue to work in other ways to promote these causes, which are dear to my heart.”

Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, who urged Wood to run for the seat, said he was disappointed in the news.

“I think Missouri voters ought to be as well. Once again, they are left with no good options. There is no question that of the three candidates who until today were in the 2022 race for U.S. Senate from Missouri, John Wood is by far the best qualified,” Danforth said in a statement.

Hawley and Blunt have endorsed Schmitt in the race to fill Blunt’s seat. No additional U.S. Senate endorsements have yet been announced for Trudy Busch Valentine.

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