Baker clinches 25th District Dem vote

Her four Democratic opponents now support the Columbia College professor.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:15 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Democrat Judy Baker emerged the winner in the highly contested Democratic five-way primary for the 25th District Missouri House seat on Tuesday. She will face Republican Joel Jeffries in the November general election. Meanwhile, Democrat Travis Ballenger and Republican Ed Robb will vie for the 24th District seat.

The primary primary race for the 25th District House Democratic primary seat proved a challenge to voters in distinguishing like-minded candidates.

“It has been an honor to run in a field of such solid candidates who share the same Democratic ideals,” Baker said. “And we are all honored to be considered to fill Vicky Riback Wilson’s seat.”

Wilson is leaving the House after serving eight years. She is ineligible to run again because of term limits.

Baker won 40.5 percent of the vote and was trailed by attorney Mike Blum, who had 20 percent.

And although the election produced four losers — Lara Underwood, D. Duane Dimmitt, Russel P. Breyfogle and Blum — each plans to throw support behind Baker.

“We haven’t coordinated yet,” Blum said. “But whoever the nominee is, we’ll lend our volunteers, go door-to-door, make phone calls, do whatever we can to tell (the voters) who we think the best candidate is.”

Baker is an adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and owner of a small health-care consulting firm. Jeffries is an orthopedic surgeon and co-founder of Progressive Spine Care and Rehabilitation.

Although their policies regarding health care and tort reform were exposed during the primaries, their experience in the health-care industry is likely to amplify their distinct approaches during the general election contest.

In the primary, voters elected Travis Ballenger, a 33-year-old owner of three Sofas Plus stores, over Greg Casey, 62, a retired MU political science professor.

Ballenger won by a margin of 616 votes, earning 54.8 percent of the votes.

Despite the results of the 24th District House Democratic primary, it became clear Tuesday night that the candidates were more concerned with the welfare of the party than with individual agendas.

“If I won, Greg promised he would support me,” Ballenger said. “And if he won, I promised I would support him.”

Surveyed outside his polling place, Rock Bridge High School, Shawn Phillips, 44, said he voted for Ballenger based on his door-to-door visit with the candidate.

“Basically, I like his stances on taxes and infrastructure,” he said.

But several Casey supporters criticized Ballenger for his pro-business slant.

Beryl Ortworth, 66, said he voted for Casey because “the other guy — Ballenger — sounded like a Republican.”

Ballenger will oppose Robb, 62, the owner of an economic consulting firm and former director of the Economic and Policy Analysis Research Center at MU.

Casey said he will endorse Ballenger and join him in planning for what will be a tough race against Robb.

“Ed will throw a lot of economic arguments at Travis to throw him off his base,” Casey said. “Essentially, it will be a candidacy of small business versus a candidacy of big business.”

Robb and Ballenger are bidding to replace Democrat Chuck Graham, who is ineligible to run again because of term limits.

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