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Rowden keeps Senate seat in victory over Baker for SD 19


It was a close race, filled with University of Missouri-themed drama, but Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden prevailed to hang onto his seat. 

Rowden beat Democratic challenger Judy Baker by about 3,000 votes in the hotly contested Senate race, allowing him to continue representing SD 19. 

“Thank you to [Team Rowden]. There are too many to name, but you know who you are,” Rowden said on social media. “The amount of work that is done to win a race like this is unfathomable unless you’re in the trenches doing it. My name may be on this win, but it was a team effort from start to finish.”

“Thank you to the people of SD19 and [mid-Missouri]. I am so humbled to be your voice in the State Senate,” he continued. “I am more energized and committed than ever before to using this opportunity to produce generational successes for this community.”

Both candidates largely focused on economic issues, particularly surrounding the University of Missouri, during the campaign. Health care and COVID-19, too, drove the race. 

But the Rowden-Baker race devolved into some controversy in the lead up to the election. Rowden contacted law enforcement in October after he said his family had been followed multiple times by unknown individuals. He also described an instance when an unknown man rang the doorbell at his house late one night and then left. 

Additionally, there was a kerfuffle among the Rowden and Baker camps over two groups tangentially aligned with the University of Missouri. With just days to go before the election, Rowden accused Baker’s campaign of creating a new group to “mislead voters” about support he’s gotten from a separate group. In response, Baker said Rowden has an “allergy to the truth.” 

Rowden was first elected to the Senate in 2016, beating Democratic opponent Stephen Webber by about 2,000 votes. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton carried Boone County in 2016 with about 49 percent of the vote. However, President Donald Trump handily won Cooper County by 70 points in that election. 

Prior to his time in the Senate, Rowden served in the state House for two terms. When he was elected in 2012, he became the first representative to beat two former state senators in a House race. 

Rowden was elevated to serve as majority floor leader in 2018. In that position, Rowden is largely considered to have been successful; he’s garnered the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle — often negotiating through filibusters lasting well into the night to reach a compromise or avoid a PQ. 

Before his time in the legislature, Rowden served in ministry as a Christian singer and songwriter. He’s also participated in multiple mission trips. 

Baker is a former state representative who has unsuccessfully run for multiple statewide seats, including treasurer in 2016 and lieutenant governor in 2012. She also challenged U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer for his seat in 2008. 

Baker has a background in the health care industry and is a former regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.