Former state representative Mary Kasten will seek the Republican nomination for the open Cape Girardeau seat in the Missouri House.
In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, Kasten announced her candidacy for the seat she held from 1983 to 2001. Along with her announcement, Kasten received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Cape Girardeau Republican who held the state Senate seat during part of Kasten's time in office, and nominating committee chairwoman Holly Lintner.
The 158th District House Republican Committee will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday to endorse a candidate for the special election Feb. 5. Earlier this week, the contest appeared to be a four-way race. But one candidate Harry Rediger, a former J.C. Penney manager and member of the Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission, withdrew Monday and endorsed retired Air Force Lt. Col. Wayne Wallingford. Naval Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Clinton Tracy, who is on active duty in Iraq, was also seeking the nomination, as was mortgage and real estate broker Gary Lange.
Wallingford was forced to withdraw after background checks discovered he has not been a registered voter for two years, as required by the Missouri Constitution. Lange, upon hearing of Kasten's candidacy, said he would support her. And Tracy, speaking by telephone from Baghdad, said he was pursuing a candidacy but he was interviewed before Kasten's announcement.
The Republican nominee will face Democrat Mike Keefe, the former Cape Girardeau postmaster, and Libertarian George Webster.
The winner will finish out the term of Nathan Cooper, who resigned Aug. 14 after pleading guilty to two federal counts of immigration fraud.
For updates, check back at www.semissourian.com or read Thursday's Southeast Missourian.