Centrist GOP Rep. Jo Ann Emerson has announced she is quitting to take on a new job, less than a month after being re-elected for a ninth term.
The Missouri congresswoman, who succeeded her husband Rep. Bill Emerson, following his death from cancer in 1996, will take over as president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association on March 1.
Her district, in the south and southeast of the state, is considered a Republican stronghold. Emerson was elected with more than 70 percent of the vote in November.
Favorite to replace her will be her former chief of staff Lloyd Smith, reports The Hill
. Smith has said he is “considering” running. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is also expressing interest, as is former state treasurer Sarah Steelman who lost in this year’s Senate GOP primary to Todd Akin.
The Hill said other possible contenders include state Rep. Todd Richardson and state Sens. Jason Crowell and Kevin Engler. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said state Rep. Jason Smith has “expressed a strong desire” to fill the post and said attorney John Tyrrell is also interested.
In a conference call with reporters, Emerson said, “"I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service — to the contrary — I see a new way to serve.
“I did not go seeking this opportunity, but I am excited about the new challenge it offers to find ways to promote strong rural policy," she said.
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