Judy Baker, a seminary graduate and wife of a former pastor, finished second in a field of six Democrats running for lieutenant governor of Missouri.

By Bob Allen

A Missouri Baptist minister’s wife and seminary graduate finished second in a crowded field of six Democrats running for lieutenant governor in statewide primary elections Aug. 7.

judy bakerJudy Baker, a former state legislator who resigned as a regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services prior to announcing her candidacy Feb. 1, won just under 17 percent of the lieutenant governor vote. She fell well behind former state auditor Susan Montee, who garnered 45 percent of the ballots. Montee now faces incumbent Peter Kinder, who survived a challenge in the Republican primary and now seeks a rare third term in November.

“We did our best,” Baker wrote in a response to a supporter’s Facebook posting Aug. 8.

Baker, who holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is married to John Baker, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbia, Mo. He now works as executive director of the Community Foundation of Central Missouri.

She once considered becoming a minister, but now describes public service as an extension of her ministerial calling. Baker, 52, served in the state House from 2005 until 2009 and lost a bid for Congress in 2008.

Despite Tuesday’s loss, Baker appeared upbeat in a message on Twitter thanking everyone who supported her campaign. “I’ll continue to serve our community, because public service is about so much more than politics,” she said.

While at the polls, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment that specifically allows public prayer and permits students to avoid assignments that violate their religious beliefs.

Missourians voted 83 percent to 17 percent in favor of a constitutional amendment titled on the ballot as ensuring “the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed” and that “school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools.”

Critics say the measure, nicknamed the Right-to-Pray Amendment, is unnecessary, because the right to pray is already protected by the U.S. Constitution. Legal experts warn that it will face legal challenges after fine-print vagaries such as whether it allows politicians to preach and pray come into play. Democratic Rep. Chris Kelly called the amendment “a jobs bill for lawyers.”

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