By Jack Hackley
In 1980, Wendell Bailey was a car dealer in Willow Springs. When Dick Ichord retired as the 8th Congressional Congressman, Wendell ran as a Republican and won.
The 1980 census resulted in Missouri losing a Congressman, which wound up being Wendell. As a result, Wendell established residence in the 4th District and ran against Ike Skelton – big mistake.
Grain Valley had a “Meet the Candidate” night and Ike called me from Washington asking me to represent him at the forum. I gave the best speech of my life. I told the people Ike was born and raised right down the road, and that most of them knew him, so why in the world would they want to change their Congressmen.
Twenty years later, I attended the Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair. Standing out front of the entrance were Wendell and Bob Holden. When Bob started to introduce Wendell to me, Wendell said, “I know Jack. He spoke against me when I was running for Congress in the 1982 election.”
He then started to quote the speech I had given word for word. He said, “Hackley asked them why they would want to change, and they didn’t.”
Wendell was state treasurer for eight years. During those elections, he drove an armored truck all over the state assuring people the state’s money would be safe. When he ran for governor in 1992, he drove a checkered cab all over the state with a sign painted on the side “Not For Hire”.
In 2000, he was a candidate for Lt. Governor. He said if he was elected, he would be full time. Although he said even being full time, all he had to do was to check on the health of the governor every day, and watch the Missouri River go by.
I have not seen or heard tell of Bailey since that election in year 2000. Wendell had a great sense of humor, and was the most likeable Republican officeholder I have ever known.