One candidate entered the Democratic primary field for state Senate from the 19th District this week, and another exited.

David Raithel, who sought the Democratic nomination for Senate in 1992 and a Columbia Board of Education seat in 2011, wrote in an email Friday that he would not file in the primary that matches Michela Skelton, an attorney and two-time legislative candidate, and Judy Baker, a former state representative who has run for Congress, lieutenant governor and state treasurer.

Skelton launched her campaign in August. Baker announced her plans Thursday.

“I had made this decision and had told (Boone County Democratic Party Chairman) Lyra Noce this morning before I went to work, and before I read that Baker declared,” Raithel wrote. “No matter, her decision is not affecting mine.”

Raithel, a self-styled radical who has caused controversy at several points over the years, including when he challenged former state Sen. Kurt Schaefer to a duel, said he had heard several criticisms of his candidacy.

“I've had many conversations with many different people about my running,” he wrote. “I heard many different arguments such that paradoxically, I am both an irrelevant mostly unknown historical artifact who cannot raise money, and a hyper-partisan lightning rod who will attract all kinds of negative energy and bad money to the race.”

Baker and Skelton are raising money for the August 2020 primary in the district that includes Boone and Cooper counties. They are seeking the nomination to take on Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, who won the seat in a close contest in 2016.

The seat was long considered a Democratic stronghold. Prior to Schaefer’s election in 2008, Boone County was represented by a Democrat in the Missouri Senate since the 1870s except for a four-year stint in the 1970s.

The people who criticized him did not deter him, Raithel wrote. Instead, he spoke to some longtime friends who encouraged him to step aside.

“I am deferring to what they think is the best possibility, and it ain't me,” he wrote.

Filing for offices on the August 2020 primary ballot opens Feb. 25.

rkeller@columbiatribune.com

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