ST. LOUIS | U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced Tuesday that she will not seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2012, saying she can best serve Missouri and her district by remaining as congresswoman for the Eighth District.
Emerson, 60, of Cape Girardeau, said in a statement that she spoke with her family, advisers and staff about the pros and cons of being a junior senator or a senior member of the U.S. House.
"We have a lot of challenges as a district, a state and a nation, and I've chosen where I can best be effective right now, promoting smaller government, working to create jobs, and being a reasonable voice in our often-unreasonable capital," Emerson said.
Emerson was elected to an eighth term in November. It was the same seat held for 15 years by her late husband, Bill Emerson, who died in 1996.
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She is the second member of Missouri's congressional delegation to decide against a Senate bid. Republican Sam Graves of northwest Missouri announced earlier this month that he would remain in the House, choosing instead to focus on his new appointment as chairman of the House Small Business Committee.
Two other Republicans have already announced plans to seek the seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill. They are former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin, a former chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt who narrowly fell short of unseating Congressman Russ Carnahan of St. Louis in November.
Ann Wagner, former chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party, co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg under President George W. Bush, also is considering a bid for the Senate. She has not said when she will make the decision.
Missouri is considered a pivotal swing state in 2012 as control of the Senate could be up for grabs.
Some Republicans view McCaskill as politically vulnerable because of her early support of President Obama, and her backing of some of his most high-profile initiatives, including the federal health care overhaul and economic stimulus act. She is one of 23 Senate Democrats facing re-election in 2012. Just 10 Republicans are up for re-election.
Martin, 40, nearly upended incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan in Missouri's 3rd District race in November. The race was surprisingly close given the St. Louis district's long support of Democrats — it is the same district represented for many years by former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt.
Steelman, 52, announced her candidacy on Dec. 1. She also served in the Missouri House of Representatives and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for governor in 2008, losing to former U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof. Hulshof lost in the general election to Democrat Jay Nixon.
Emerson said she believes that she can do much for the entire state while serving as congresswoman for her southeast Missouri district.
"A good economic climate in our district is good for our state," she said. "Good agriculture policy is good for our state. Less government spending and less burdensome bureaucratic nonsense is good for our state. Stronger families with greater freedoms are good for our state. These are all top-of-the-list priorities on my agenda in the House, and I think everyone in Missouri appreciates that — even the folks who were ready to drop everything and enlist in a Senate campaign on my behalf," Emerson said.