Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson’s surprise decision to give up her seat in Congress after sixteen years (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports she’s going to work for her biggest campaign donor in the most recent cycle and during her congressional career, the National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.) provides a giant opportunity for some people who might have thought that there was no way anybody could oust her. Several familiar names in Republican circles have generated some immediate buzzes. But they’re being coy, saying in effect, “Yeah, it’s an interesting possibility and I’d run if they ask me but I don’t want to just come right out and say ‘Hell yes, I’m running!'” Mustn’t appear to be over-eager, you know. But you better believe they’re not just sitting around and doing nothing. It’s been thirty years since somebody named Emerson wasn’t in that seat. They sure aren’t going to miss the chance of a political lifetime. They might be coy in public. But in their private spaces, their fingers are dancing on the telephone keypads. And some recent campaign organizations that had slipped into a doze since election day are wide awake again. Publicly, though, they’re just grateful that people are expressing interest and, sure, they’d be honored to be considered. Just like it’s an honor to sit in the woods all day when your real purpose is to kill a 12-point buck.
Right away the name of Peter Kinder bobs to the top. “I’m giving it careful thought,” he says in a statement. But he’s “mindful” that he’s just been re-elected Lieutenant Governor and he has to consider “the people trust in me to serve in that capacity.” But he will be discussing things with the Republican congressional district committee that will nominate someone to run as Emerson’s replacement.
Lloyd Smith, the executive director of the state GOP, is Emerson’s former Chief of Staff, has issued a statement talking about the ways his experience on her staff would qualify him as the candidate. But he is “humbled” by the calls he’s gotten from people suggesting he get in the contest and will “carefully consider” the opporunity. But he notes the decision is up to the committee.
State Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau, whose term runs out next month wants to talk things over with his wife. But he says he’s a common-sense conservative and that’s what the country needs and he will “continue to discuss” how he can advance his agenda.
The Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourians is reporting today a flock of other people have allowed some trial baloons–mostly self-inflated– with their names on them to be floated around. But in circumstances like this, a lot of people will make themselves available for discussion. What the heck. They have nothing to lose. And they can always tell the grandkids they once were a “candidate” for Congress.
Then there’s State Representative Jason Smith of Salem. No dancing from him. He has put out a statement saying he “expressed a strong desire” to seek the nomination. And he frankly puts out his qualifications. Right to Lifers like him. So do the gun rights people. The Chamber of Commerce thinks he’s really swell and so does the American Conservative Union.
One other name comes to mind, too. Sarah Steelman. We tried to reach her yesterday evening to find out if she had another race in her after two big losses. As this entry goes to press, we haven’t heard from her. Perhaps she’s too busy giving serious thought and carefully considering and continuing to discuss to get back to us.
Emerson isn’t leaving until February 8. Governor Nixon won’t set an election date until after her retirement goes into effect. So there’s plenty of time for thinking and considering and discussing and evaluating and being humbled and being honored.