Tommy Sowers (D) has surged onto the political scene in Missouri’s 8th Congressional District, garnering national press and media in his challenge of Jo Ann Emerson (R). The landscape of this district is largely a rural district with its largest city of Cape Girardeau of only approximately 37,000 people. It encompasses all or parts of 28 counties, and it is the 11th poorest congressional district in the United States.
Before I discuss why I believe Mr. Sowers will lose, Tommy Sowers has a lot of things on his side: He’s young, an Iraqi war veteran (Green Beret and Army Ranger), and he’s got lots of money. Jo Ann hasn’t had a challenger with money in her career as an incumbent, and the results have shown that. She has won her reelections by margins of: 63-35, 69-30, 72-27, 72-27, 72-26, and 71-26.
Jo Ann has been an asset, and fits the mold for the 8th District in Congress. She is a moderate Republican, and here is a few examples that display that:
- Jo Ann voted to overturn President Bush’s ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research
- Jo Ann voted to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by April 2008
- She was one of 7 Republicans who voted in favor of censuring Joe Wilson (R-SC) for yelling “You Lie!” in President Obama’s healthcare address to Congress
To provide a more personal example of Jo Ann’s work for her constituents can be seen by her work to save the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Rolla. In 2006, there was a movement by the Secretary of the Interior to close the Rolla office and move it to Denver. After Emerson pushed for details regarding the move, the Interior Dept’s own data showed Rolla was the better office to keep open. During the drama, she visited Rolla, promising to save the jobs at the Rolla office. Because she was on the Appropriations Committee that appropriated those funds, she helped save jobs, and expose a politicized decision by the Secretary of the Interior.
The people of the 8th District will remember these types of things. Jo Ann has been to multiple Lincoln Days and local parades in 2004, 2006, and I’m sure subsequent years. In large part, I believe she’s kept close ties to her district.
On a federal level, Missouri’s 8th District is conservative. John McCain took the district with 62% of the vote, and President Obama received only 36% of the vote. With Jo Ann receiving 10 percentage points higher reelection than the Republican candidate for President, this indicates that she is well liked in the district.
Tommy Sowers shouldn’t be taken lightly, as my post yesterday points out, only on Election Day will we know if Jo Ann Emerson wins reelection. Jo Ann should be sure to spend time back in the district and not forget that she’s working for the people of southeast/south central Missouri.
At the end of the day, Tommy Sowers will raise lots of money and get support from Howard Dean, Paul Begala, and Gen. Wesley Clark, but the people of Missouri’s 8th District will reelect Jo Ann Emerson, who has done good things for her district in her political career.
This will be an expensive (and probably dirty) race, and I believe that if there is any truth in Sowers’ argument that Jo Ann isn’t in the district enough, this may and should bring her back in the district more often. However, my initial prediction of this race is a 57-43 victory for Jo Ann.
Author’s note: Craig is originally from Rolla, has met, and volunteered for Jo Ann Emerson in 2004 and 2006. However, Craig is currently registered to vote in Missouri’s 9th District, not Missouri’s 8th Congressional District.