Governor Jay Nixon has set June 4 as the date for the special election to fill the vacant Eighth Congressional District seat, which includes Oregon County. Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, who had held the seat since 1996, announced just before the New Year, that she would be resigning in February. However, Emerson informed the Governor on Tuesday, Jan. 22, that her resignation would take effect at the end of the day. The governor then set the June 4 election date.
The date surprised many who expected the special election to be held on April
2, when many school districts elect board members and towns and cities elect
city council members and aldermen.
Nixon explained the delay by saying, "While state law provides that the notice of election has to be submitted to local election authorities no later than 10 weeks
prior to the election, this notice does not take into account the provisions of the
Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act as it pertains to federal elections.
In 2009, the MOVE Act became federal law as a means to help American military members serving overseas and citizens living abroad to vote in U.S. elections,
and was subsequently codified into Missouri law under Chapter 115, RSMo."
Under the MOVE Act and state law, the process of signing up candidates, printing ballots and distributing them to members of the military coud not be done in
time for the April 2 election.
The deadline for candidates to file is no later than 5 p.m. on the day that is the
midpoint between the date when the election is called and election day. Independent candidates also must submit their petitions by this midway point. Local election authorities then have at least 10 days but no more than 40 days to process those independent candidate petitions.
Approximately ten Republicans are interested the Eighth Congressional seat.
A Republican has held the seat since 1981. On the Democrat side, approximately five people have expressed interest in the position. On Sunday, Jan. 27, a group of Eighth District Democrats met at Poplar Bluff, Mo. to meet with Democratic candidates, an indication that campaigns for the seat are already up and running.
While Emerson was reelected in November, she resigned her position to become the President and Chief Executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative
Association. In Emerson's resignation letter to Governor Nixon she stated, "Serving Missouri's Eighth Congressional District for 17 years has been an
incredible honor, a welcome challenge and a deeply rewarding endeavor. I count myself as incredibly fortunate to have represented Americans who are so passionate about the principles of service and community. Our democracy is in good hands thanks to the talent, dedication and civic pride of the proud Americans working every day to improve our Nation and its prospects."
In her letter to Speaker John Boehner she said she was "humbled and grateful to represent Southern Missouri."
"I have to thank the constituents of the Eighth Congressional District. In times of tragedy, they have inspired me with their courage. In times of disaster, they have inspired me with their resilience. In times of uncertainty, they have inspired me with their unwavering optimism. I have been honored to fight by their side. I am very proud of what we have accomplished," Emerson said.