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At least 3 vying for Democratic nod in 8th District

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Democratic committee that will choose a candidate to run in a special election for the 8th Congressional District has set a nomination meeting for Sunday.

The meeting will be at 4 p.m. at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 2750 N. Westwood Blvd., Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Possible nominees, whose names have been released by committee members or the candidates themselves, are Barry Aycock, a Parma, Mo., businessman and farmer; state Rep. Linda Black, who represents the 117th House District that covers St. Francois County; and Todd Mahn, a De Soto, Mo., funeral home director who ran briefly in the 8th district last summer. Jack Rushin, a Poplar Bluff, Mo., chiropractor who lost the November general election to former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, is no longer courting nomination.

Emerson's last day in Congress was Tuesday. She resigned to take a job as president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. A special election for her replacement will be June 4.

On Wednesday, Committee member Mike Masterson said Cape Girardeau County Democrats met Tuesday night and formally endorsed Aycock "primarily because of his agricultural background" and because he is a "highly successful businessman."

Chuck Banks, a spokesman for Mahn, on Wednesday pointed to Mahn's conservative values as the reason he should receive the nomination. Banks said Mahn's main goal as a member of Congress would be to bring jobs to the region, which he said hasn't happened during years of Republican leadership.

"Todd's pro-life, pro-gun and all about jobs. He's pro-union and pro-labor, which is why he is a Democrat," Banks said.

Banks described Mahn as willing to cooperate and compromise with other members of Congress and outlined Mahn's work as chairman of the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors as an example of public service.

Banks said Mahn's decision to leave the 8th District race in 2012, before the August primary, was related to Rushin's interest. Mahn believed his time would be better used finishing work on the state board, Banks said.

"At the time we had also heard in the wind that [Emerson] might retire, and we thought the opportunity would still be there to turn the district blue," Banks said.

Black plans to attend Sunday's meeting, although she did not concede that she was seeking the nomination.

"It's an important decision to make," she said. "I just want to make sure what is best for the people of the district matches with the values of conservative Democrats."

Aycock was not available for comment Wednesday.

Republicans on Wednesday officially set their nomination meeting for 10 a.m. Feb. 9 at the River Centre in Van Buren, Mo. More than a dozen candidates are seeking their party's nomination from an 86-member committee.

Committees are required by state statute to notify the secretary of state's office with the name of the person nominated no later than March 30, which will be midway between the day the election was called and Election Day.

Eddy Justice, chairman of the Republican committee, said the committee's nomination meeting will be open to the public and press. It is not yet clear if Democrats will similarly open Sunday's meeting. Committee chairman Art Cole did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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