It will probably go unspoken but this region owes a debt of gratitude to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson on her decision to seek re-election to her House seat instead of entering the GOP battle for governor of Missouri.
Perhaps Emerson felt her chances were a long shot. Given the statewide name recognition of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Treasurer Sarah Steelman and Rep. Kenny Hulshof, maybe the six-term legislator read the tea leaves correctly and decided to stay put. But I'll take her at her word that she has some unfinished business in Congress. And given the prospects for the Republican Party and the nation as a whole, it seems virtually certain there will be ample need for a seasoned, common sense voice to remain representing our District.
Had Emerson opted to enter the gubernatorial contest, can you imagine the nasty fight that would have erupted from a gang of hopefuls to fill her seat? I suspect only newspapers and broadcast media who benefit from political advertising would come out a winner. The last thing we need in this region - at least right now - is a freshman legislator from a minority party representing our voices in Washington, D.C. We have to yell above the fray as it is. Absent Emerson's seniority, you can only imagine how quiet our voice would sound.
Though most would put Emerson in the "moderate" category, I think she belongs squarely on the side of common sense and logic. She's practical enough to know how to pick her battles and vocal enough to wage war when war is needed. Even her opponents - few as they are - know she's good at what she does and she doesn't shy from a fight. Give credit where credit is due.
It's academic at this point to debate the prospects of Rep. Emerson's chances to seek the top spot in Missouri. But I suspect she and Lloyd Smith put their heads together, surveyed the landscape and decided what was best for both her and the people she represents. Academic debates aside, she would have made a dazzling governor with the skills and talents she carries. To think otherwise would be foolhardy.
We hope Rep. Emerson joins in the likely fight to diminish earmarks or at the very least, bring those costly "pet" projects into the public debate. Sen. Claire McCaskill was bold enough to refuse earmarks when she was elected to the Senate. We don't expect these perks of pork to evaporate overnight but it would be gratifying to know that our voice in Congress is working to address this runaway spending that siphons your tax dollars without one single word of public debate. We might suggest she add this item to her agenda following the election.
Depending on the outcome of the presidential election this November, the importance of Rep. Emerson in this Congressional seat cannot be overlooked. We can only imagine what challenges might be just around the corner and how those challenges might impact the farming communities, small businesses, the struggling middle class or those who depend on government assistance just to get through the day. I cannot imagine a more important time for this District to have that voice of reason representing our interests.