The Washington Post

Jo Ann Emerson steps down to spend more time making money

Speaking of the relatively small number of GOP women in Congress, one of the handful of Republican women slated to take her place in the House in January has become the second member of the 113th Congress to quit the office before the session begins

Missouri Republican Rep. Jo Ann Emerson

Jo Ann Emerson a 16-year veteran of the House Republican caucus, who was first elected to her 8th district Missouri seat in a special election, after her husband, eight-term Rep. Bill Emerson, died in office in 1996, has resigned to take a big job as CEO for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. She replaces retiring CEO Glenn English who, according to Republic Reports made $9,294,207 at the consumer-owned electric utility network between 2004 and 2010. In a statement announcing her departure from the considerably lower-paid public position Emerson said, “I see a new way to serve.”

Emerson leaves the people of Missouri the same way she found them, on the hook for the cost of a special election to replace her.

At least one woman, Sarah Steelman, is being mentioned as a party-appointed candidate for her seat. The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan reports that at least three male candidates are also hoping to be selected to run for the solidly conservative downstate seat against whomever the Missouri Democratic Party chooses.

Steelman was unsuccessfully championed during her recent primary campaign for the Senate by 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The seat was narrowly retained last month by Democrat Claire McCaskill.   

Sarah Palin (Diana Reese — The Washington Post)

Emerson was a reliably moderate conservative Republican, but both Palin and Steelman are of the hard right tea party persuasion. The stumping effort apparently did less to raise the profile of her Missouri namesake than it did to that of the Wasilla, Alaska, fitness expert. (You’ve probably seen my colleague Diana Reese’s Sarah Palin photo in a Superman T-shirt snapped at a Steelman rally last summer?).  

Meantime, the House Democratic Campaign Committee has made the case that Emerson resigned her seat for ideological reasons (“Congresswoman Emerson is the latest moderate Republican to ditch House Republicans, a sign that no moderates are welcome in the Tea Party House Republican Caucus.”) But given the job opportunity she has accepted, I suspect she stepped down in order to do good, while also doing well. 

Bonnie Goldstein is a Washington writer. Follow her on Twitter at @KickedByAnAngel.






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