Emerson said Friday that her resignation would be effective at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Emerson, who first took office in 1996 following the death of her husband, Rep. Bill Emerson, is leaving the office to head the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, she announced last month.
"It's very bittersweet," Emerson said in a phone interview during a break from packing up her office in Washington, D.C. Friday. "I have very mixed feelings, because I love the district. It's been for me a labor of love all these years, not only during the time that Bill served but during the time I have served as well. I have been greatly inspired by our constituents and that has made the job worthwhile. I can assure you it hasn't been the institution of Congress. It's been the people who have made the difference in this."
Emerson had originally planned to resign in February, but moved up the resignation date. Emerson had said she hoped moving up the date could help a special election for her seat coincide with an already-scheduled election, saving costs for election authorities.
Gov. Jay Nixon will set the date of the election sometime after the secretary of state's office receives official notice of a vacancy in the district. The secretary of state's office also notifies chairs of each political party committee, who then set meetings within two weeks for the committee to vote to nominate candidates to run for the open congressional seat.
Republican committee chair Eddy Justice said Friday he will set the official meeting date as soon as he receives word from the secretary of state. Republicans were expected to meet in Van Buren, Mo., on Feb. 9 to nominate a candidate from a field of 13 possible nominees. Democrats have not yet released word on their plans.
Tuesday marks the latest Emerson could have resigned and an election still be held to coincide with April 2 municipal elections -- at least 10 weeks notice has to be given to local election authorities before an election can be held to fill a vacancy per state statute. Other already scheduled election dates this year are Aug. 6 and Nov. 5.
Cape Girardeau County Clerk Kara Clark Summers said Friday no elections are yet to be held in August with which a special election could coincide, but the date is available. There is no requirement for the governor to set the special election to coincide with a regularly scheduled election where there are issues on the ballot.