The Point: A GOP candidate ran on an anti-Trump platform. He won just 3% of the vote.


(CNN)Michael Wood’s candidacy in this weekend’s special election for Texas’ 6th district was regarded as a potential canary in a coal mine.

Wood, on paper, had all the sorts of attributes that Republican voters have long prized — he’s a Marine veteran and a small business owner.

He was also, however, an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump, and argued that the Republican Party needed to move beyond the 45th President in order to survive.

    It’s that last attribute that drew so much national attention to Woods’ candidacy. In a crowded field with most of the candidates vowing their unstinting support for Trump, could Woods cut through by tapping into dissatisfaction with Trump within the GOP? And if he did, was that a sign that Trump’s grip on the GOP was slipping?

      Uh, no.

        Wood finished 9th. He got just over 2,500 votes — good for 3.2% of the overall vote. Which, oomph.

        The leading candidate? Susan Wright, the widow of the late Texas Rep. Ron Wright, with 19%, who was personally endorsed by — you guessed it — Donald Trump. “Susan surged after I gave her an endorsement last week,” tweeted the former president over the weekend. “Her wonderful husband is looking down, and is very proud of her!” (The other candidate who qualified for the July runoff was state Rep. Jake Ellzey, who also fashioned himself as a strong supporter of Trump.)

          Wood was unbowed in the wake if his dismal showing, releasing a statement that said in part:

          “I am gravely concerned about the state of the Republican Party. Let me be clear: this is not because I lost an election. I am concerned because a Republican President of the United States lied to the American people, took advantage of his supporters’ noble patriotism, encouraged a mob to disrupt the lawful operations of the United States Congress, was derelict in his duty as commander-in-chief to put an end to this insurrection — and then the overwhelming majority of elected Republicans in Congress failed to show the courage this moment required. Republican members of Congress then voted to overturn an election and attempted to disenfranchise millions of Americans. The events of January 6, 2021 are a stain on America. The failures of Republicans in the weeks that followed are a stain on the party of Abraham Lincoln.”

          It’s worth noting here that Wood was always something of a long shot — no matter how he positioned himself vis a vis Trump in the primary. Wright’s name ID — due to her late husband’s time in office — made her the frontrunner from the start. And Ellzey not only had a base in the district from his state House seat but had also run unsuccessfully against Ron Wright in 2018.

          Even so, had there been any significant blowback to Trumpism — particularly in this Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex suburban seat — Wood would have overperformed. Instead, he finished behind four other Republicans and four Democrats. (All candidates — regardless of party — ran in a single primary on Saturday.)

            The Wood flop is rightly understood as the latest piece of evidence that while Trump is no longer in office, his influence over the GOP hasn’t waned a bit. This remains his party entirely. From the booing of Sen. Mitt Romney in Utah over the weekend or the continued jeopardy in which Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney finds herself, it’s clear that any attempt by the anti-Trump crowd within the GOP is being met with massive resistance.

            If there’s a fight within the GOP, the Trump forces are winning.