Judy Baker shows interest in lieutenant governor's office

Monday, January 9, 2012 | 6:01 p.m. CST; updated 11:17 p.m. CST, Monday, January 9, 2012

COLUMBIA — Columbia Democrat Judy Baker said Monday that she is exploring a potential campaign for lieutenant governor.

Baker, a former state representative who also made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress in 2008, said numerous people over the past month have encouraged her to run for lieutenant governor and she will be gauging whether to do so.

"I have a strong heart for public service," Baker said.

Baker said one reason she's interested in running for lieutenant governor is because she wants to advocate for senior citizens, which is one of the office's primary roles. She also would strive to improve mental health services for veterans, an issue she emphasized while in the Missouri House of Representatives and in her campaign for the 9th District congressional seat.

"My background is well suited to make progress in those two areas," Baker said.

Baker served as the 25th District state representative from 2005 to 2009. She listed her rural health initiative, which increased telehealth network services, as a primary accomplishment. The Missouri Telehealth Network helps patients who lack access to doctors get medical advice through video conferences. She also cited a bill to promote more regular physical education classes in Missouri schools. Although she carried the physical education bill for four years, it didn't pass until she left the office.

In 2008, she lost the U.S. House election to Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer. In December, Baker resigned after two years as regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Lieutenant governors serve four years, and there are no restrictions on the number of terms in office. The main responsibilities, according to the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, include:

  • Assuming the powers and duties of the governor when the governor is absent from the state or unable to serve.
  • Acting as president of the Missouri Senate and casting votes in case of a tie.
  • Serving on several boards, including the Board of Public Buildings, the Missouri Tourism Commission, the Missouri Housing Development Commission and the Missouri Development Finance Board.

Baker has not formed a campaign committee. Two Democratic candidates — former state Auditor Susan Montee and Missouri Conservation Commission member Becky Plattner  — already have announced they will run for lieutenant governor and have active committees, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Republican candidates include incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, state Sen. Brad Lager and state Sen. Luann Ridgeway. Each has an active committee. Mike Carter, a former Democrat who has switched to the Republican Party, has indicated he will run but has not formed a committee.

The deadline to file candidacies and to create campaign committees for statewide offices and others that appear on the August primary ballot is March 27. The first day to file is Feb. 28.

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