General election foes for Emerson emerge

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson won't get a bye in November after a Democrat and a Libertarian entered the 8th Congressional District race just hours before Tuesday's filing deadline for candidates.

Democrat Gene Curtis of Matthews is making his third run for the seat. Curtis, an insurance and real estate broker, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 1994 and 1996. Since no other Democrats are running in the Aug. 6 party primary, he is assured a spot on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

Eric Van Oostrom of Cape Girardeau is running on the Libertarian ticket. Van Oostrom is a manager at Ragsdale's bar and the Buckner Brewing Co. He is making his first run for public office.

"I feel like everyone has a responsibility to take on some kind of civic duty," Van Oostrom said. "This is the best way for me to express that right now."

Emerson, of Cape Girardeau, will be the likely Republican nominee, although she is being challenged in the primary by Richard Allen Kline of Gipsy. Kline, like Curtis, is also making his third bid for Congress, following unsuccessful attempts in 1996 and 1998.

Emerson is seeking a fourth two-year term.

In other Southeast Missouri contests, there was little last-day activity before filing closed at 5 p.m. Only five additional candidates jumped into area races for state representative, and no other hopefuls came forward for two circuit judgeships on the ballot this year.

Two Democrats -- Wayne Petit of Scott City, a former Scott County commissioner, and Curtis Burch of New Madrid -- entered the race in the 161st District. They are seeking the right to challenge state Rep. Lanie Black, R-Charleston, in November.

In the neighboring 160th District, Democrat Gary Riley of Sikeston filed against incumbent state Rep. Peter Myers, R-Sikeston.

A second Republican, Otto Bean of Holcomb, joined the field to replace incumbent state Rep. Phillip Britt, D-Kennett, in the 163rd District. Bean will face Curtis Steward of Campbell for the GOP nomination. The winner will square off against Democrat Brent Robinson of Kennett in the general election.

Britt is not seeking a third two-year term.

Libertarian C. Darby Ulery of Cape Girardeau filed on Tuesday in the 158th District against incumbent state Rep. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau. Ulery, a political newcomer, teaches kindergarten at Jefferson Elementary School.

Four area incumbents will have free rides in 2002, garnering neither primary nor general election opposition.

Unopposed Republicans are state Reps. Rod Jetton of Marble Hill and Rob Mayer of Dexter. Democrats without challengers are state Reps. Denny Merideth of Caruthersville and Wes Wagner of DeSoto.

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