Conservative Spotlight

Emerson Departure Creates First Special Election of Obama’s Second Term

Emerson Departure Creates First Special Election of Obama’s Second Term

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R.-Mo) announced Monday morning that she would resign from Congress next February, a surprise decision that sets the stage for the first special U.S. House election of Barack Obama’s second term.

With Emerson (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 80.71 per cent) set to leave office to become head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in February, Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is likely to call a special election for her 8th District seat for early April. Sources in the Show-Me State told Human Events the date would most likely be April 2 to coincide with municipal elections. This is a week earlier than the April 9 special election planned for the seat of outgoing Illinois Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr.

At this writing, all signs are that the 8th will remain in Republican hands, as it has since Emerson’s late husband Bill Emerson first won the House district in 1980. Following Bill’s death in 1996, his widow succeeded him and since been re-elected with ease.

The race for the GOP nomination to succeed her will be an “inside job,” as the nominee will be selected by about 90 people who served on the 8th Distict Republican Committee. The early favorites for the nomination are Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, just re-elected and the lone Republican in statewide office, and Lloyd Smith, executive director of the state Republican Party. Both have close ties to the Emerson family, Kinder having run Bill Emerson’s initial race and worked in his office and Smith being the late congressman’s top aide.

As to whether either will run is a question for now. Sources in the 8th District told us that “Peter and Lloyd are longtime friends and if one decides to run, the other won’t.”

Regardless of what they do, former state treasurer and 2010 U.S. Senate hopeful Sarah Steelman sounded very much like a candidate.

“I’m definitely interested and the phone has been ringing off the hook,” she told HUMAN EVENTS this morning, Steelman made it clear that if elected, “I will never compromise on raising tax rates on anyone at any time. That’s the worst thing we can do. We need to lower rates to create more jobs. When we get back to that idea, our economy will take off.”

Last year, Steelman came up short in the three-candidate race won by controversial Rep. Todd Akin, who went on to lose to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Although many believe giving her the nomination for Congress would be a way of saying “I’m sorry” for not nominating her for the Senate, Steelman is not close to many of the party insiders who will make the decision.

There are other lesser-known names mentioned, among them State Reps. Jason Smith of Salem and State Sen. Jason Crowell of Cape Giraradeau, both of whom are considered strong conservatives. Also mentioned are State Sen. Kevin Engler, considered more moderate, and Todd Richardson, a state legislator and son of onetime state House GOP Leader Mark Richardson. None, however, have the recognition and following of the “Big Three”—Kinder, Smith or Steelman.

So, with one election cycle over, the next has begun—thanks to a decision never expected from Jo Ann Emerson.

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