Republican Jo Ann Emerson

House
Jo Ann Emerson

Birthdate: Sept. 16, 1950
Birth Place: Washington, DC, United States
Residence: Cape Girardeau, MO
Religion: Presbyterian
First Elected: 1996
Gender: Female

Candidacy

Party: Republican
State: Missouri
Office: House
District: District 8

Education

Undergraduate: Ohio Wesleyan University

Degree: BA

Jo Ann Emerson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Bethesda, Md. She earned a bachelor's degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1972.

She worked as a lobbyist in Washington and with the National Republican Congressional Committee, where her late father, Ab Herman, was its longtime head.

Emerson replaced her husband, longtime Republican Rep. Bill Emerson of Missouri, after he died of lung cancer in June 1996. The timing meant Emerson ran simultaneous campaigns, as a Republican in the special election to finish her husband's term and as an independent in the general election for a new term.

Emerson resides in Cape Girardeau, Mo., with her second husband, Ron Gladney. She has two daughters, five stepdaughters and a stepson.

Profile

Jo Ann Emerson has pushed for rebuilding a southeastern Missouri levee since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breached it in May 2011 to protect Cairo, Ill., from possible flooding.

After the decision to activate the floodway, Emerson has insisted that it be rebuilt to its original height. In May 2012, she said she believes the corps "jumped the gun in deciding to activate the floodway. She also wants local residents to have input in the future.

Emerson, a Republican, is seeking re-election to the U.S. House from Missouri's 8th Congressional District. She will face Democrat Jack Rushin and Libertarian Rick Vandeven in the November 2012 general election.

In November 2011, she was one of 100 House members who signed a letter asking Congress' debt reduction committee to consider all options in reducing the deficit.

When the Internal Revenue Service said in October 2011 that legislation imposing budget cuts would cost the government $4 billion in lost revenue each year, Emerson, who leads the House Appropriations subcommittee that authored the measure, said the cuts were designed to avoid hurting collections and services but added, "Like families across the country, the IRS will have to do more with less."

In February 2010, she teamed up with a Missouri colleague in the House, Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, to sponsor legislation aimed at blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating pollution-causing greenhouse gases. The measure aimed to void the EPA's finding in December 2009 that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, a conclusion that allows the agency to consider rules limiting them.

Emerson also has worked to ease trade sanctions on sales to Cuba, which is a huge potential market for rice grown in her district. And she has sponsored several efforts to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs, such as allowing Americans to buy medicine abroad and increasing the availability of generic brands.

She also pushed to lower prescription drug prices by allowing cheaper medicines to be imported from Canada. She renewed a bill in March 2009 to import less expensive prescription drugs from Canada and other nations.

After the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, Emerson pushed federal officials to revise emergency plans for a potential earthquake along the New Madrid fault that runs through southeastern Missouri.

She serves as co-chair of the board of directors of the Congressional Hunger Center, a job in which her late husband had served.

Emerson is carrying on a family tradition in representing southeast Missouri in the House.

Her late husband, Republican Rep. Bill Emerson, had represented the area from 1981 until his death in 1996 of lung cancer at the age of 58. He was so popular in southeast Missouri, a nickname was coined for Democrats who crossed party lines to support him: Emercrats.

After Bill Emerson's death, state and national Republican officials threw their support behind Jo Ann Emerson, as did the Missouri Farm Bureau, a potent grassroots ally that influences rural voters. She won the election to replace him.

She came to the job with experience unique to a freshman lawmaker. As a former lobbyist and congressional spouse, Emerson understood how to move her issues along. Her issues have tracked closely with those of her late husband. She is a conservative who opposes abortion and gay marriage, but supports issues unique to rural and farming communities.

Emerson was remarried in 2000, to Ron Gladney, a Democratic labor lawyer in St. Louis. Their first meeting was a discussion they had scheduled to talk about the new Mississippi River bridge at Cape Girardeau, a structure that is named for Bill Emerson and opened in December 2003.

Source: Associated Press

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