Reporting by Jacob McClelland and Chris McDaniel.
Updated at 2:28 with announcement of the date of the special election.
As expected, U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson submitted her letter of resignation to Governor Jay Nixon and House speaker John Boehner on Tuesday. Emerson is leaving to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Now, Nixon must call for a special election to fill out the remainder of Emerson’s term.
Update: Nixon has set the date for the special election as June 4th. Republicans (and Emerson) had hoped it would be in April. Nixon's press secretary, Scott Holste, said in a statement that "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." The MOVE Act was designed to protect military suffrage.
Under Missouri state law the state needs at least 10 weeks to set up an election, but Missouri Secretary of State spokesperson Liz Abram-Oldham says federal law requires closer to 120 days.
“And that’s just to make that our military personnel, and especially military personnel overseas, and any other Missouri citizens who would be affected by this vote that are overseas, do have the opportunity," Abram-Oldham said. "We don’t want to disenfranchise anyone just to get someone in office faster.”
The previous secretary of state estimated that a special election for Emerson's seat would cost nearly a million dollars. Abram-Oldham said the earliest possible date would be sometime in June.
Below is Emerson's letter of resignation to Governor Nixon.
Emerson served in the 8th Congressional district, a conservative area in southeast Missouri. The party committees for the district will select each party's candidate. Over a dozen Republican hopefuls have flocked to the open seat, and two forums have already been held. The Republicans will vote on their candidate on Feb. 9.
Among the contenders are Lietenant Governor Peter Kinder and former executive director of the Missouri GOP, Lloyd Smith.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel
- See more stories on politics and policy from St. Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network of Public Media at BeyondNovember.org.