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Jo Ann Emerson
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Missouri's 8th district
November 5, 1996 - January 22, 2013
Jo Ann Hermann
September 16, 1950
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (Until 1996; 1997-present)|
Independent (January 1997)
|Education||Ohio Wesleyan University (BA)|
Jo Ann Emerson (born September 16, 1950) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 8th congressional district from 1996 to 2013. The district consists of Southeast and South Central Missouri and includes the Bootheel, the Lead Belt and the Ozarks. Emerson is a member of the Republican Party. On January 22, 2013, Emerson resigned her seat in Congress to become the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. She served as CEO until August 2015.
She was born Jo Ann Hermann in Bethesda, Maryland. She was a daughter of Albert "A.B." Hermann, who played for the Boston Braves baseball team from 1923-1924 and was executive director of the Republican National Committee. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Emerson, whose voting record in Congress has established her as one of the more moderate Republicans, has a history of bipartisanship while in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was a member of the moderate Republican groups the Republican Main Street Partnership and the Tuesday Group.
On May 24, 2005, Emerson was one of 50 Republicans to vote in favor of overturning President George W. Bush's ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. She cast her "yea" vote the day after her mother-in-law died from Alzheimer's Disease, one of the illnesses for which scientists believe they can create better treatments from stem cell research.
On July 12, 2007, Emerson was one of only four Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by April 2008.
On September 15, 2009, Emerson was one of seven House Republicans to vote in favor of the Democrats' proposed resolution to condemn U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) for shouting "You lie!" in the middle of President Barack Obama's joint address to the U.S. Congress on health care reform.
Her margins of victory in the district have always been higher than those of GOP presidential candidates George W. Bush and John McCain as well as Republican gubernatorial candidates Kenny Hulshof, Matt Blunt and Jim Talent.
Emerson announced in early December 2012 her plans to retire from Congress in February 2013 to assume a position with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) as its president and Chief Executive Officer.
When her husband Bill died in 1996, Jo Ann announced she would run for his vacant seat. However, Missouri state law prohibited her from filing in the Republican primary for the general election. In November, Jo Ann Emerson competed in two elections on the same day. She ran as a Republican against Democrat Emily Firebaugh in the special election to finish the last two months of her late husband's eighth term, and as an independent against Democrat Firebaugh and Republican Richard Kline in the general election for a full two-year term. She won both elections easily and has been reelected seven times without serious difficulty. She is the first Republican woman elected to the U.S. Congress from Missouri. She served the last two months of her husband's term as a Republican, then as an independent caucusing with the Republicans before officially becoming a Republican again at the onset of the new Congress in 1997. She was briefly the first independent elected to federal office in Missouri in 122 years and is the first, and so far only, woman to be elected and serve in Congress as an independent or third party member.
In August 2015, Emerson took a leave of absence from the NRECA for medical reasons and was succeeded by her former congressional chief of staff and chief operating officer, Jeffrey Connor, in an interim capacity in November, effectively stepping down. In June 2016, former U.S. Representative Jim Matheson was named to succeed Emerson as CEO and took over her post in July. In March 2017, Emerson received the Clyde T. Ellis Award, the highest honor bestowed on an individual by America's electric cooperatives. On her behalf, her husband, Ron Gladney, accepted the award.
Hermann married future U.S. Representative Bill Emerson, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, on June 22, 1975. They had two daughters; Jo Ann also has five stepdaughters and a stepson. Bill was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1980 from Missouri's 10th Congressional District and, subsequent to redistricting, was reelected in 1982 from the 8th District. He died from cancer on June 22, 1996, a few months before the end of his eighth term. The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, which links Missouri to Illinois across the Mississippi River, was dedicated to commemorate his efforts to obtain federal funding for its construction.
Following Bill's death, Jo Ann married Ron Gladney in 2000. From this marriage she gained two stepdaughters and a stepson.
Sometime after leaving the NRECA in 2015, Emerson suffered a stroke while on a family vacation to Italy which left her paralyzed from the neck down. In 2020, while living in the Knollwood retirement community in Washington, D.C., she tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) amid the eponymous pandemic. She later tested negative.
|Independent||Jo Ann Emerson||112,472||50.47|
|Natural Law||David R. Zimmer||1,318||0.59|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||104,271||62.62||+12.15|
|Democratic||Anthony J. "Tony" Heckemeyer||59,426||35.69||-1.59|
|Libertarian||John B. Hendricks Jr.||2,827||1.70||+0.58|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||162,239||69.31||+6.69|
|Libertarian||John B. Hendricks Jr.||2,328||0.99||-0.71|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||135,144||71.76||+2.45|
|Libertarian||Eric Van Oostrom||2,491||1.32||+0.33|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||194,039||72.21||+0.45|
|Constitution||Leonard J. Davidson||1,319||0.49|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||156,164||71.64||-0.57|
|Democratic||Veronica J. Hambacker||57,557||26.40||-0.22|
|Libertarian||Branden C. McCullough||4,268||1.96||+1.29|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||198,798||71.44||-0.20|
|Libertarian||Branden C. McCullough||4,443||1.60||-0.36|
|Constitution||Richard L. Smith||2,257||0.81|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||128,499||65.56||-5.88|
|Republican||Jo Ann Emerson||216,083||71.93||+6.37|