Emerson beats Sowers for ninth U.S. House term

Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Jo Ann Emerson

Most voters in the 8th Congressional District weren't ready for "new blood" after all.

Republican incumbent Jo Ann Emerson resoundingly won her ninth re-election bid to the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday, besting Democratic challenger Tommy Sowers whose rally cry of sending "new blood" to Washington, D.C., fell largely on deaf ears.

With 282 of 471 precincts reporting, Emerson garnered 65 percent of the vote with 80,509 votes, compared to Sowers' 35,822 votes, about 29 percent.

Emerson was greeted by applause and cheers when she arrived at the State Room at the Drury Lodge in Cape Girardeau, which was filled with several hundred supporters, a live band and red and blue balloons.

"This is your night. This election is about all of you," she told the crowd from a stage shared by family, staff members and supporter Neal Boyd, a singer best known for winning "America's Got Talent."

Emerson is expected to return to a Republican-led House, which she mentioned during her victory speech.

"I'm really excited we will be in the majority," Emerson said. "You have sent a big message to the administration. We don't want government shoved down our throats."

Sowers called Emerson just before her speech to concede the race.

"She and I both agree that now is the time to set aside our differences and to work together for the future of Missouri," said Sowers, a combat veteran who was said to be Emerson's strongest challenger in years.

Sowers, 34, ran his first-ever campaign on a platform of ending the war in Afghanistan, renegotiating trade agreements, passing a balanced budget and securing the nation's borders.

"The fight for our home does not stop just because we don't like the outcome of this election," Sowers said from his hometown of Rolla. "Progress never comes easy."

Throughout the 18-month campaign, Emerson, 61, of Cape Girardeau, touted what she called "effective leadership," saying she would continue her fight in Congress for "pro-life issues, flood control, hunger relief and fiscal responsibility." She also worked to connect Sowers to President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their "liberal allies," who she said were out to attack rural America.

She reiterated those themes Tuesday night and indirectly mentioned Sowers' ability to raise funds.

While previous Emerson opponents groused about raising enough money to compete against Emerson, that wasn't the case this time. Emerson raised more for the overall election cycle with more than $1.8 million, but Sowers' overall total was $1.4 million.

He outraised Emerson in the last month before Tuesday's election by a 12-to-1 margin. In fact, in the last fundraising quarter before the election, Sowers was one of only six Democratic House challenger candidates in the country to raise more money than his Republican opponent.

"We sent another message: That the 8th district is not for sale," she said, drawing loud cheers.

With a House majority, Emerson is in line to become chair of the House Appropriations Committee's Financial Services and General Subcommittee.

That would be key as a potential GOP majority is expected to begin working to dismantle the health care law, or at least cut its funding to undermine the reforms.

Much of the health care law would be paid for by changes at the Internal Revenue Service and, in theory, Emerson's subcommittee could opt not to fund those changes, creating a roadblock for Democrats.



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