COLUMBIA, Mo. (ABP) – A former pastor’s wife and seminary graduate has entered the Democratic race for Missouri’s lieutenant governor, hoping to unseat a Republican incumbent.
Judy Baker, who served in the state House from 2005 until 2009 and lost a 2008 bid for Congress, resigned recently as a regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Her husband, John Baker, resigned in 2010 after 12 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo., and now works as executive director of the Community Foundation of Central Missouri.
Judy Baker earned a master-of-divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986. She worked most of her career in the medical field before entering public service, using her pre-med undergraduate degree as the tide turned against women pastors in Southern Baptist life.
In a 2007 Baptist Center for Ethics video titled Golden Rule Politics, Bakers said she viewed public service as an extension of her call to ministry. As both a Baptist minster’s wife and a Democrat, she described herself as “quite the anomaly” in the state capital.
She said when she introduces herself as a Baptist minster’s wife with a master’s degree in divinity, “They will say, 'Then you're a Republican?'
"I'll say, 'No, I'm a Democrat.' It's just shock in the eyes of people. For some it's really difficult to make the transition.”
In announcing her run for lieutenant governor, Baker pledged to work alongside Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to tackle challenges like job creation and support for seniors and veterans.
“Sadly, too often politicians in Jefferson City spend their time working to score cheap political points at the expense of the other party,” she said. “That’s got to stop. I believe Missourians are looking for sensible leadership and elected officials with realistic solutions to the challenges facing our state. I’ve always worked as a practical problem solver and pledge to continue that approach if given the chance to continue my public service.”
Baker faces competition in the Democratic race from former state Auditor Susan Montee and former Saline County Commissioner Becky Plattner. Current Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is being challenged for the Republican nomination by state Sens. Brad Lager and Luann Ridgeway.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.