When Republicans in the Eighth Congressional District meet to choose their nominee to fill the vacant seat left by U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, GOP representatives from Phelps County are expected to cast 7 percent of the votes.
That is according to Pam Grow, secretary, and Bob May, chair of the Phelps County Republican Central Committee.
Under Missouri law, Republican and Democratic party committees nominate candidates for a special election when vacancies occur in Congress.
Most of the focus has been on the potential GOP nominee because the district’s voters have tended to favor Republicans.
Among the approximate 13 Republicans who have expressed interest in the seat are Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder; former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, of Rolla; Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party; Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem); and former U.S. Rep. Wendell Bailey.
The congressional district committee for each party is composed of the chair and vice chair of each county committee, plus the committee chair and vice chair of each Missouri House district that is at least partially within the U.S. House District.
Because Republican officers were not elected in late August for every county committee and Missouri House district committee, there will be about 28 county and 22 House district committees that will pick a GOP nominee.
With the chair and vice chair of each committee voting, this means about 100 votes will be cast for the Republican nominee.
It is possible that some members of a congressional district committee could vote twice — once as a representative of a county committee and again as a representative of a state legislative district committee.
May said that is not the case in Phelps County. Neither the chair nor vice chair of the Phelps County committee is a chair or vice chair of the House district committee.
There are four House districts that fall in all of or parts of Phelps County — the 62nd, 120th, 121st, 142nd. However, some members of House district committees live outside of Phelps County.
According to Grow and May, there are seven members who are Phelps County residents. With 100 votes expected to choose the GOP nominee and seven of those from Phelps County, that translates to a 7 percent influence on picking the nominee.
Eddy Justice, of Butler County, chair of the Eighth District Republican committee, has called a nomination meeting for Saturday, Feb. 9, in Van Buren. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and the public and press are welcome to attend.
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Members of the Eighth District Democratic committee are scheduled to meet this Sunday, Jan. 27, at 4 p.m. in Poplar Bluff to possibly choose their nominee. This meeting is not open to the public or media.
Democratic nominees hoping to replace Emerson are expected to attend. According to Mike Masterson, a member of the Democratic Eighth Congressional District committee, the tentative candidates are Barry Aycock, of Parma; state Rep. Linda Black (D-St. Francois); and Todd Mahn, of Festus.
According to Phelps County Democratic Central Committee Chair Paul Long, both he and Vice Chairman Carol K. Bennett plan to attend. He said neither he nor Bennett chair a House district committee that fall in parts of or all of Phelps County. He was unsure how many of the House district committee members live in Phelps County.
Once nominees are selected by the two party committees, voters will choose between them in the Tuesday, June 4, election.
Independent candidates must submit their petitions by the midway point of between when the election is called and when it actually is held. Local election authorities then have at least 10 days but no more than 40 days to process those independent candidate petitions.