Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Missouri, announced Monday that she would resign from the U.S. House of Representatives in February 2013, nearly a month after winning reelection.
Emerson represents the 8th Congressional District in southeastern Missouri, stretching north into Jefferson County and west to include Rolla.
She plans to become the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative. She first took office in 1996, replacing her husband, Bill Emerson, after his death.
With Emerson's retirement, Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, becomes the longest serving member of the Missouri Congressional delegation. Clay represents the 1st Congressional District, which includes Olivette and part of Creve Coeur.
Clay released the following statement on Emerson's resignation:
Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson has represented Southeast Missouri with honor and integrity. Jo Ann has always been a voice of calm, reason and common sense.She is a skilled legislator, a wonderful colleague, and a great friend of mine. Congresswoman Emerson represents the best of Missouri. I will miss her wise voice as Democrats and Republicans seek common ground to move the nation forward.
Speculation has already begun on who might fill Emerson's seat. According to Fox2, Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman have confirmed interest in succeeding Emerson. In a statement obtained by St. Louis Beacon reporter Jason Rosenbaum, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder said he would also consider a possible candidacy.