COLUMBIA — State Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, has declared her intent to explore running for the U.S House of Representatives seat currently held by Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof.
Baker, who is in the middle of her second term in the Missouri House, filed fundraising paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday. The need for national change, Baker said, is what made her contemplate this huge change in her own life.
“I do believe there is a sentiment of change in the country right now,” she said. “I believe people want more perspectives, new ideas and a fresh set of solutions.”
These ideas include an emphasis on improving health care — especially for children — and the economy.
“In order to grow the economy, I think it is vitally important to create more opportunity for working families to succeed,” Baker said. “I’m also very concerned about environmental issues — helping to grow our economy through forms of renewable alternative sources of energy.”
Scott Baker, a spokesman for Hulshof, R-Mo., said Hulshof welcomes the new Democratic competition.
“Congressman Hulshof is looking forward to discussing the issues with whomever emerges from their primary,” Baker said, referencing a growing list of potential candidates looking to gain the Democratic Party’s support.
The list currently includes Baker and Lyndon Bode, presiding commissioner of Marion County, in addition to Columbia resident Duane Burghard, who lost to Hulshof in the 2006 election. Hulshof won re-election in 2006 by a sizable margin, receiving 61 percent of the votes to Burghard’s 36 percent.
Scott Baker indicated that Baker’s extensive voting record sets her apart from other candidates, although he said it’s unclear at this stage whether that will help or hurt her campaign.
“I think it works better for us,” he said. “One of the challenges of a candidate that doesn’t have a voting record, it’s hard for people to understand where they are on the issue. I think it would be easier to define her as a candidate than the others.”
In her last campaign for the Missouri House, Baker defined herself as someone concerned about her community. In addition to having served as a deacon at First Baptist Church, she has served on numerous community-oriented boards, including the Boone County Community Partnership. She is a managing partner at Cura Advantage, a health care consulting firm.
If she’s going to leave her community, however, now is the time, Baker said.
“I am also encouraged by the fact that I have been able to accomplish much in the General Assembly even while in the minority party and anticipate being able to do even more as a part of the majority party at the national level,” she said.
Baker said her fundraising would come from “citizens who care about change.”
“I will be the candidate of progress,” she said. “I feel that when you relay that message there will be a lot of support.”
She added her husband and three children support her decision.
“They’ve always been great cheerleaders for me and the things that are important in our community,” she said.