The Washington Post

Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson to resign from House

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) will resign from Congress next February to become President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, she announced on Monday. 

"I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service -- to the contrary -- I see a new way to serve.  I did not go seeking this opportunity, but I am excited about the new challenge it offers to find ways to promote strong rural policy," Emerson said in a statement. 

A special election will be held to replace Emerson, who was first elected to the House in 1996 to replace her husband Bill Emerson, who died in office that year. She represents Missouri's 8th District, which lies in the southeastern part of the Show-Me State. 

The congresswoman was easily re-elected in November with nearly 72 percent of the vote in a heavily Republican district. During her tenure in the House, Emerson crafted a moderate profile. According to National Journal's 2011 vote ratings, she ranked near the middle of the pack, clocking in as the 200th most conservative member of the lower chamber. 

Given the GOP-tilt of the district, Republicans will be heavy favored to hold the seat. Republicans familiar with Show-Me State politics pointed to several possible GOP candidates for Emerson's seat including state Rep. Jason Smith, former state representative Mark Richardson, former treasurer and 2012 Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, state Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith (who is Emerson’s former Chief of Staff), Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and incoming state Sen. Wayne Wallingford. 

The 8th District Democratic and Republican Party Committees will choose nominees; no special primaries will be held. 

Emerson sits on the House Appropriations Committee, chairing the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. In her statement, she said serving her district has been an honor and a challenge. 

"The people of Southern Missouri have entrusted their voice in Congress to me for 16 years. Serving them is a humbling experience, a great honor and a welcome challenge. Our congressional district is big, it is diverse, and it demands practical representation by someone who places us and our home ahead of politics and partisanship.  The people of our district demand results, they want us to work together, and they have every right to a representative who works as hard as they do.  Every day in Congress, that is my goal," Emerson said. 

House Democrats' campaign arm reacted to Emerson's announcement by arguing that the GOP conference has grown too conservative for moderates Republicans. 

“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," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson. 

Incoming National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) praised Emerson and wished her well for the future. 

"As the first Republican woman to represent Missouri in Congress, Jo Ann Emerson has been a principled, determined voice for Missouri families and small business owners. During her 15 years in Congress, Jo Ann has focused on protecting farm families, promoting American agriculture, and working to create jobs," Walden said. 

Emerson's announcement comes nearly two weeks after Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. announced his resignation in Illinois's 2nd District. The special election to replace Jackson will be held next April. 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Aaron Blake · December 3, 2012

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.