by David Nir
Leading Off:• MO-08: It’s our second resignation of the 113th Congress—and the 113th Congress hasn’t even begun yet. Veteran GOP Rep. Jo Ann Emerson says she will depart the House in February to take a job as head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a lobbying organization for rural utility companies. (NRECA also happens to be Emerson’sbiggest all-time campaign contributor.) Emerson’s resignation will trigger a special election, of course, and in Missouri, nominations for specials are handled by a committee of party leaders—there’s no primary. That’ll give Emerson a chance to influence who her successor is, but who might that be?
The Great Mentioner has already kicked into high gear regarding possible replacements for Emerson: Analyst Jeff Smith thinks Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former Treasurer and failed 2010 Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, outgoing state Sens. Jason Crowley and Kevin Engler, and state party executive director Lloyd Smith could all make a go of it. Nathan Gonzales offers the same list, adding state Rep. Todd Richardson but also saying that Kinder and Smith look to have the inside track. (Both have ties to the Emerson family: Smith was Emerson’s former chief of staff, and Kinder worked for Emerson’s late husband Bill, whom she succeeded in Congress.) Joshua Miller tosses on a couple more: state Reps. Jason Smith and state Sen.-elect Wayne Wallingford.
And if you were wondering, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for an upset possibility: We haven’t crunched the most recent election results yet, but the 8th District went 60-38 for John McCain in 2008, which means it’s extremely red territory. Emerson did draw a well-funded challenge from Iraq vet Tommy Sowers in 2010, but despite spending $1.6 million, he took less than 29 percent of the vote. If anything, I’d guess the 2012 numbers were worse for Team Blue than 2008′s, so this is really going to be a GOP-only affair.