by Jordan Shapiro
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced Dec. 3 that she will end her 16-year congressional career in February.
Emerson will leave her Southeast Missouri seat to become the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The association was Emerson’s top campaign donor during her numerous congressional campaigns.
When Emerson officially resigns her seat in Congress, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon will have 10 weeks to call a special election. The Republican and Democratic party committee chairs will then nominate candidates to run in the general election.
Emerson’s announcement already has caused a scramble among Republicans vying to replace her in the reliably GOP district. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, fresh off his successful re-election bid, announced that he was interested in the congressional seat.
Other Republicans weighing options include outgoing state Sen. Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau, state Rep. Todd Richardson, state Rep. Jason Smith and Republican Party executive director Lloyd Smith.
The candidate who wins the special election will serve the remainder of Emerson’s term and will be able to run in the 2014 election for the seat.
Emerson was first elected to the seat in 1996, taking over for her husband, Bill Emerson, who died in office. Emerson currently chairs the U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Treasury Department and the executive office of the president.
Her retirement also will make Sen. Roy Blunt the longest serving member in Missouri’s congressional delegation.