Dems seek unity

Sunday, August 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:03 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 8, 2007

Democratic winners of Tuesday’s local primary elections carried the national party’s message of unity to the weekly luncheon of the Boone County Muleskinners on Friday.

About 50 people attended, listening to nominees and their representatives talk political strategy while grabbing a plate of fettuccini alfredo.

Judy Baker, who emerged from a field of five to win the nomination for the 25th District House seat, congratulated her opponents on energetic campaigns and noted that all four had called to offer her their support. She later said that from the beginning all five candidates had decided to support the winner.

“We all knew that we wouldn’t want to split the party up five ways on issues or anything else,” said Baker, who will face Republican Joel Jeffries in the general election.

Stephen Wyse, who helped organize the “unity lunch,” said it was intended to unite local Democrats and give them a rest. He said primaries are tough when voters have to decide between party candidates.

This idea was stressed by Darren Hellwege, who spoke on behalf of Chuck Graham, who won the nomination for 19th District state senator after a bitter campaign with former House colleague Tim Harlan. Hellwege talked about the bitter-sweet experience of voting in that contest, the closest among Democrats in Boone County.

Hellwege said he was proud to vote for Graham, who earned 51.9 percent of the vote, even after “an awful lot of years of being very, very proud to vote for Tim Harlan.”

Scott Cristal, who spoke for 24th District House nominee Travis Ballenger, said the campaigns for that office were “upbeat” and featured no attack ads. He mentioned that Ballenger and his opponent, Greg Casey, had discussed plans to support each other after the primary.

Christy Welliver, who attended the event, did not vote for Baker in the primary but supports her now. She said the Democrats need to come together to combat the Republicans.

“We’ve got to come together strong, we have got to get over any problems and differences that we went through in the primary, but I think in every case, almost, that’s going to be easy,” she said.

Lloyd Becker and Nancy Copenhaver, the Democratic nominees for state representative in the 21st and 22nd districts, respectively, also spoke.

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