• Public can meet contenders Thursday night in Salem
A Republican candidate to replace long-time U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson in Missouri’s 8th District will be chosen by the district’s Republican committee.
But before the committee choses its candidate, the public will get a chance to meet the contenders Thursday night at Salem City Hall during an open forum from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Among those who are interested in being the candidate and could attend the forum are:
• Lloyd Smith of East Prairie. Smith is the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party and former Chief of Staff to the retiring Emerson.
• Lt. Governor Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau.
• Sarah Steelman of Rolla, former state treasurer and state senator.
• Salem native and Missouri House Speaker Pro-Tem Jason Smith.
• Wendell Bailey of Willow Springs, elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1981, and state treasurer from 1985-1993.
• Dan Brown of Rolla, representing Dent County as a state senator from the 16th District.
• Jason Crowell, Cape Girardeau, House of Representatives, 27th District
• Kevin Engler, Farmington, State Senator, 3rd District
• Scott Lipke, Jackson, House of Representatives, 127th District
• Bob Parker, Raymondville, former candidate for United States Senate, 8th District
• Todd Richardson, Poplar Bluff, House of Representatives 154th District
Pedro Sotelo, Kansas City, Accounts Manager at Fisher/Unitech
• John Tyrrell, Mountain Grove, Private Attorney
Wayne Wallingford, Cape Girardeau, former State Senator 27th District
• Clint Tracy, House of Representatives 158th District
Although the Missouri Democratic Party could not be reached to comment on the candidates they may be fielding for the special election, according to the Southeast Missourian, Festus, businessman Todd Mahn, who was the headline of a failed run for the 8th District’s Democratic primary, is a likely candidate.
Emerson’s resignation ultimately means a special election will need to be held to fill her spot. Depending on her last day, the election will either coincide with the April 2 election, or have to be held separately in August.
In Thursday’s forum, initially there will be a social hour, where the Republican Committee will accept questions for the participants, followed by a question-answer session, according to Committee member Joyce Karnes of Dent County.
After the forum, and perhaps other public meetings, the chair and vice chair of each county will meet in Van Buren and choose a candidate to be placed on the ballot.
Emerson announced her intentions to resign her Congressional seat in February to become a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative. Emerson, who has represented Missouri’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representative since her late husband Rep. Bill Emerson died in 1996, is attempting to time her departure so as not to leave the district with a gap in service. In a statement released on her website, Emerson wrote, "My foremost priority is to be sure that the Eighth Congressional District is well-represented in Congress.”