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Anti-Trump Republican will seek Texas seat

An anti-Trump Republican will jump into the race for a Texas congressional seat today, The Hill has learned, setting up a proxy war over the former president's influence in a primary that is also likely to feature former Trump aide Katrina Pierson.

Michael Wood, a 34-year-old major in the Marine Corps Reserve, will officially launch his campaign Monday. 

In a campaign launch video, Wood will say that the Republican Party must not become “a cult of personality, a vehicle for one man’s ambitions and grievances.” 

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He also explicitly blames former President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE for recent defeats suffered by the GOP in key races.

“It is time to move on before he does to the country as a whole what he has done to Georgia and Arizona, two reliably Republican states turned blue,” Wood says.  

Wood, a small-business owner and married father of four, served in combat in Afghanistan and was awarded two Purple Hearts. He is seeking to represent Texas’s 6th Congressional District, which elected Rep. Ron WrightRon WrightHouse Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection Carter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority Unsuccessful anti-Trump Republican candidate: GOP 'not living up to this moment' MORE (R) for his first term in 2018. Wright won reelection in November but died three months later, having contracted COVID-19.  

The primary is set for May 1. The seat has been in Republican hands since 1983.

The primary will be hotly contested, with Susan Wright, the widow for the former congressman, among those expected to run. So too is Sery Kim, who served in the Department of Health and Human Services during the early days of the Trump administration.

The Hill reported on Sunday that Pierson, a spokeswoman on Trump’s 2016 campaign and a top adviser to his 2020 reelection bid, is planning to file in the coming days.

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The GOP has been roiled by tensions over Trump since the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.  

Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyAll House Republicans back effort to force floor vote on 'born alive' bill Cheney says she 'regrets' voting for Trump Cheney: McCarthy should 'absolutely' testify before Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Wyo.) beat back an attempt to oust her from House leadership after she voted for Trump’s impeachment. At the same time, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) an ardent Trump backer, received significant internal support even after social media posts emerged showing support for conspiracy theories and threats to political opponents.

Wood, in his launch video, warns that the GOP cannot become “the party of conspiracy theories, QAnon and political violence.”  

He does, however, say he voted for Trump in 2020, suggesting he felt he had no choice because the Democratic Party had become “too comfortable with socialism and cancel culture.”

Trump made his first major public appearance since leaving office at the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC, on Sunday. He teased the possibility of a 2024 presidential run and won a straw poll of attendees by an overwhelming margin. 

Wood is testing Republicans' appetite for a very different message. While Trump lambastes internal party critics as weak-willed, Wood is seeking to flip that script.

“If you’re afraid that a Republican Party led by cowards will lose to Democrats for a generation, so am I,” he says. 

Reid Wilson contributed to this report.