Emerson announced last week she will be stepping aside Feb. 8 after 16 years in Congress. Her seat will be filled by a special election, with the date still to be set by Gov. Jay Nixon. Rather than a primary, candidates will be chosen by political parties' committees.
"It's something I've been contemplating over the past week, spending time talking with my family and my close friends and supporters, trying to decide if this was the right decision for my family first and then the constituents," Richardson said. "I received a lot of encouragement from people to take a hard look at this."
Richardson also spoke with members of the GOP selection committee and said they were "interested in hearing my vision for how I would represent the district."
Richardson said his focus would be maintaining a conservative presence in Congress.
"The focus of the people across the 8th Congressional District is to ensure we have a strong conservative representative in Congress," he said. "I've worked hard to try to be a strong conservative voice in the state House."
Fiscal responsibility would be a priority.
"Clearly the most pressing problem right now is how we deal with our deficit and our debt," Richardson said. "We have a sense of entitlement spending that is out of control."
He emphasized the "fight to balance the budget, protect the right to life, fight for the Second Amendment and get the federal government off the backs of farmers, landowners and small business owners," in a statement announcing his decision. He also referenced his focus in the Missouri House on "controlling spending, reforming labor laws, protecting animal agriculture and other vital issues."
He said his local ties make him a strong candidate. Richardson's family, as well as his wife's, are from the area.
"I'm a product of Southeast Missouri," he said. "I think those deep roots really matter in a race like this."
Poplar Bluff, Mo.