Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District, which covers Phelps County along with 26 other counties plus parts of Taney County in the southeastern portion of the state, will not have voting representation in the U.S. House until June.
Hours after Republican Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday to Gov. Jay Nixon, it was announced that Tuesday, June 4, would be the date for a special election to fill her seat.
Nixon is scheduled to make the official announcement today setting the election date for the race that will decide who will replace Emerson in the Eighth Congressional District.
The Constitution states that a special election must be held to replace a U.S. representative if they leave before their term is over. Nixon does not have the power to name a temporary representative.
According to her resignation letter to Nixon and another letter sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Emerson resigned as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. In an interview with members of the media on Dec. 3, she had said her last day in Congress would be Feb. 8.
Emerson is leaving Congress to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Emerson had previously said that she hoped that her replacement could be decided in the April 2 municipal elections and moved up her resignation in hopes of naming a replacement earlier.
It is estimated that the special election will cost about $1 million. According to Liz Abram-Oldham, of the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, the cost of the special election will be borne by the state unless a county, local municipality or district also has a scheduled election on June 4. As of now, no local elections are scheduled in Phelps County for June 4.
While state law provides that notice of an election has to be submitted to local election authorities no later than 10 weeks prior to the election, this notice does not take into account the provisions of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act as it pertains to federal elections.
In 2009, the MOVE Act became federal law as a means to help American military members serving overseas and citizens living abroad to vote in U.S. elections, and was subsequently codified into Missouri law.
Under the MOVE Act and state law, the deadline for military ballots to be printed and made available and for local election authorities to begin transmitting those ballots to military and overseas voters is 45 days before a general, primary or special election for federal office.
Another state law allows independent candidates to file for special elections up to the midway point of between when an election is called and when it is actually held.
Republican and Democratic party committees will nominate their candidates for the special election.
Page 2 of 3 - In a statement about her resignation, Emerson said she was honored to serve the people in her district.
“They are an outstanding example of the very best our American communities have to offer: smart, strong citizens who are always ready to lead,” Emerson said. “At a time when the popularity of Congress hovers in the single digits, it has never been more important for us to instill their virtues in our elected representatives.”
In 1996, she took the place of her late husband, Bill Emerson, who died in office. She has been re-elected ever since, including the general election in November, where she raked in almost 72 percent of the votes cast in her district.
“I hope and pray that all we have worked to accomplish will be upheld by the public servants who follow in Bill Emerson’s footsteps and in mine,” she said. “To us, the people of this district have always come before politics. That philosophy of service remains the only way to get good things done on behalf of southern Missouri and the nation.”
Complete copies of Emerson’s resignation letters to Nixon and Boehner are listed below:
The Honorable Jeremiah W. Nixon
Governor of Missouri
Jefferson City, MO
I write to inform you that I will resign my seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, effective 11:59 p.m., January 22, 2013.
Serving Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District for 17 years has been an incredible honor, a welcome challenge, and a deeply rewarding endeavor. I count myself as incredibly fortunate to have represented Americans who are so passionate about the principles of service and community. Our democracy is in good hands thanks to the talent, dedication and civic pride of the proud Americans working every day to improve our Nation and its prospects.
I commend the citizens of my District to you, and I assure you that my trust in the People remains well-placed with those I have had the honor of representing.
JO ANN EMERSON
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
I write to inform you that I have notified Missouri Governor Jeremiah Nixon of my resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives, effective 11:59 p.m., January 22, 2013.
Serving the Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives has been the greatest honor of my professional career. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to represent Southern Missouri, to bring the ideas of the people to our Capitol, and to be part of our democracy. I have always emphasized the same virtues of the people who sent me here: civility, hard work, integrity and love for our neighbors. I deeply appreciate the way our House of Representatives reflects these important parts of life in our great Nation.
Page 3 of 3 -
I’m grateful beyond words for the members of my staff, our committees and my fellow colleagues in Congress for their service, guidance and friendship. So many talented individuals work to ensure the House of Representatives reflects the voice and will of the People, and most Americans never see the men and women working long hours to advance policy, to support debate and to conduct meaningful oversight.
Finally, I have to thank the constituents of the Eighth Congressional District. In times of tragedy, they have inspired me with their courage. In times of disaster, they have inspired me with their resilience. In times of uncertainty, they have inspired with me their unwavering optimism. I have been honored to fight by their side. I am very proud of what we have accomplished.
JO ANN EMERSON