Tracy wins GOP primary for 158th District

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

For the third time in a row, Cape Girardeau Republicans nominated the youngest man running in an open contest for the 158th District Missouri House seat.

Clint Tracy, a Naval Reserve officer and partner in Timberline International Forest Products Inc., took the nomination over retired Air Force officer Wayne Wallingford and Jeff Glenn, a former aide to Sen. Jim Talent.

Tracy, 34, follows in the footsteps of Jason Crowell, now a state senator, and Nathan Cooper, whose resignation from the seat in 2007 sparked Tracy's first abortive attempt for the office as a candidate for the nomination in a special election. Crowell was 28 when nominated in 2000; Cooper was 31 when first nominated in 2004.

Tracy took 41.8 percent of the vote, or 1,560 votes, besting Wallingford, who came in second, by 345 votes. Glenn posted 25.6 percent, for 957.

Tracy enjoyed an evening with family as he waited for returns. He said it was hard to point to any single factor that propelled him to victory. "I felt like at the end of the day I worked as hard as I could," he said. "I just worked hard and left it up to the voters. I met a lot of voters and had good back-and-forth with them."

Wallingford, who gathered with his supporters at the Marquette Tower, said he's not going to give up on politics but is undecided on whether to seek office again. Wallingford, who is human resources director for McDonald's of Southeast Missouri, has been active in Republican clubs in the area.

"I don't know what the future holds for me, but it certainly doesn't leave a bad taste in my mouth," he said.

Glenn, who had touted experience with Talent and as a top official in state agencies following his work for Talent, said he, too, would not rule out a future bid for office.

Glenn was philosophical about his defeat in an interview as his election-night party broke up at Celebrations restaurant. "It reminds me of a line from my favorite song -- if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans."

Glenn praised Tracy and said he would work with the winner in any way he could.

Democrats did not field a candidate for the race, but Tracy's win is not an automatic walk to the office. He faces Libertarian Robert Roland in the Nov. 4 election.

The race never became bitter, but there were moments of friction. Wallingford's supporters sought unsuccessfully to portray their man as the pro-life candidate after Missouri Right to Life gave its nomination to Tracy.

Tracy used the endorsement in his direct mail advertisements and was able to develop a significant edge in fundraising over his two opponents as the race reached a climax.

Tracy is the son of Debra Tracy, a member of the Cape Girardeau City Council who won her seat originally as a write-in candidate. He said that campaign helped him understand the need for a strong organization.

"I felt good about what I was doing and my plan and I never really focused on what the other guys were doing," Tracy said. "I had my script and stuck to it. When I went door to door, the feedback was positive. When you are focusing on your plan, it doesn't give you much time to worry about your opponents."

All three candidates pledged they would work together in the fall campaign.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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