Barbara Stocker, a retired research scientist from Jefferson County, plans to start her campaign with an announcement at 10 a.m. today at the Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. U.S. Courthouse.
The 8th Congressional District covers 30 counties in Southeast and Southern Missouri.
Jason Smith, a Republican from Salem, Mo., assumed the seat in June by winning a special election and is running for re-election in 2014.
Smith is finishing the unexpired term of Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned earlier this year to become CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. In the June election, Smith easily defeated a Democrat, Steve Hodges, along with Libertarian and Constitution party candidates and several independent candidates.
Last week, Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, announced the formation of an exploratory committee to look at a run for Congress.
In a statement, Stocker proposed "bringing jobs to Southeast Missouri through improvements to infrastructure, increase access to quality education, protect and defend Social Security and Medicare and pass a long-term farm bill."
"We need to stop sending angry young men to Congress who want to defund and dismantle our government," Stocker said in the statement. "We need to send a kindhearted old lady who wants to make government work again."
In a phone interview Tuesday, Stocker, 77, said she is seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party because she doesn't like "the obstructionism going on in Congress, and people are very tired of it."
Stocker has never before run for office but said she has been politically active for years by working in Democratic campaigns. She holds a degree in biochemistry from West Virginia University.
Her work experience includes the medical research field and stints with corporations such as Purina and Monsanto, where she retired from a position in the safety and environmental health department.
Stocker on Tuesday already had filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, but no fundraising has yet been reported. She said fundraising efforts for her campaign are just beginning and that she is focusing on forming a grassroots campaign by traveling to all the counties in the district to meet with members of Democratic committees.
A Democrat has not been elected to serve the area in Congress since Bill Burlison's last term in the former 10th District in 1978. Until 1980, when Burlison was unseated by Republican Bill Emerson, the late husband of Jo Ann Emerson, the southeastern part of the state had been a Democratic stronghold for many years. Bill Emerson held the seat until his death in 1996. Jo Ann Emerson soon after won her first bid for Congress, and nine consecutive re-elections followed.
"I know what the odds are and that it's a tough nut to crack, but we are certainly going to try it," Stocker said of the district's tendency to favor Republicans.
Stocker is so far the only Democrat to announce interest in the seat.
555 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO