GOP candidate crushed after opposing Trump says party 'not living up to this moment'

Michael Wood, a Republican whose anti-Donald Trump message resulted in a crushing defeat in a special election for a Texas US House seat, says the party is compromising its values by spreading the former president's falsehoods.

Michael Wood, a Republican whose anti-Donald Trump message resulted in a crushing defeat in a special election for a Texas US House seat over the weekend, said the party is compromising its values by spreading the former president's falsehoods.

"It seems like right now, the dividing line in our politics is going to be between those who speak the truth and those who engage in conspiracy theories. And that's really unfortunate," Wood told CNN's John Berman on "New Day," adding that he is concerned about the direction of the GOP. "It feels like in a lot of ways we've gone through a looking glass, and those of us in the party who are against insurrection and lying are finding ourselves turned into fringe candidates. It's a sad commentary on the party. It's a sad commentary on the country."

A Marine veteran and outspoken critic of Trump, Wood finished ninth in the crowded field for the congressional district seat that has been left without representation since the death of GOP Rep. Ron Wright. Wood, who received roughly 3% of the vote, has called for Republicans to reject the former President and stop pushing conspiracy theories like the 2020 election was stolen and QAnon. He was backed by Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a vocal Republican Trump critic in Congress.

Republican Susan Wright, Ron Wright's widow who was endorsed by Trump, will advance to a runoff with Jake Ellzey, also a Republican, in a special election.

Wood's loss is indicative of how firmly Trump's hold remains on the Republican Party as it eyes regaining control in Washington and deals with continued party infighting over whether to fall in line behind the former President or return to traditional party ideals.

Wood, who called himself a "once-proud Republican," told Berman that elected officials in leadership positions should "act like leaders." He also said that the GOP is "not living up to this moment" with the exception of Kinzinger, No. 3 House Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney -- all whom have broken away from Trump.

"If you run for office and if you get elected to Congress, you've got to be willing to lose it, you know, or else you can't do the job. I think a lot of people have their egos and their entire personalities tied up with being a member of Congress. And all the perks that go along with that. I think they need to be willing to walk away from it," he said. "And I think they need to think not just about the next election or the next news cycle, I think they need to think about history. I think they need to think about how they're going to be judged and, you know, what future generations are going to say about this moment."

CNN's Ethan Cohen contributed to this report.

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