ENG: Jo Ann Emerson (born September 16, 1950) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 8th congressional district from 1996 to 2013. The district consists of Southeast and South Central Missouri and includes the Bootheel, the Lead Belt and the Ozarks. Emerson is a member of the Republican Party. On January 22, 2013, Emerson resigned her seat in Congress to become the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
With the defeat of Congressman Ike Skelton at the conclusion of the 111th Congress, Emerson became the dean, i.e., the longest-serving member, of Missouri's congressional delegation.
Early life, education and career
She was born Jo Ann Hermann in Bethesda, Maryland. She was a daughter of Albert (A.B) Hermann, who was executive director of the Republican National Committee.
She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University. She married future U.S. Representative Bill Emerson, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, on June 22, 1975. They had two daughters; Jo Ann also has five stepdaughters and a stepson. Bill was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1980 from Missouri's 10th Congressional District and, subsequent to redistricting, was reelected in 1982 from the 8th District. He died from cancer on June 22, 1996, a few months before the end of his eighth term. The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, which links Missouri to Illinois across the Mississippi River, was dedicated to commemorate his efforts to obtain federal funding for its construction.
Following Bill's death, Jo Ann married Ron Gladney in 2000. From this marriage she gained a stepdaughter and a stepson.
U.S. House of Representatives - Political campaigns
When her husband Bill died in 1996, Jo Ann announced she would run for his vacant seat.
However, Missouri state law prohibited her from filing in the Republican primary for the general election. In November, Jo Ann Emerson competed in two elections on the same day. She ran as an independent against Democrat Emily Firebaugh and Republican Richard Kline in the general election and as a Republican against Firebaugh in the special election to finish the last two months of her late husband's final term. She won both elections easily and has been reelected seven times without serious difficulty. She is the first Republican woman elected to the U.S. Congress from Missouri. She served the last two months of her husband's term as an independent caucusing with the Republicans before officially becoming a Republican at the start of the new Congress in 1997. She was briefly the first independent elected to federal office in Missouri in 122 years.