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updated 2/23/2011 8:45:52 AM ET 2011-02-23T13:45:52

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced Tuesday that she will not seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2012, saying she can best serve Missouri and her district by remaining a congresswoman.

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Emerson, 60, of Cape Girardeau, said in a statement that she spoke with her family, advisers and staff about the pros and cons of being a junior senator or a senior member of the U.S. House.

"We have a lot of challenges as a district, a state and a nation, and I've chosen where I can best be effective right now, promoting smaller government, working to create jobs, and being a reasonable voice in our often-unreasonable capital," Emerson said.

Emerson was elected to an eighth term in November. It was the same Eighth District seat held for 15 years by her late husband, Bill Emerson, who died in 1996.

She is the second member of Missouri's congressional delegation to decide against a Senate bid.

Republican Sam Graves of northwest Missouri announced earlier this month that he would remain in the House, choosing instead to focus on his new appointment as chairman of the House Small Business Committee.

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, who was narrowly defeated by Democrat Claire McCaskill in 2006, said in January he will not make a comeback bid.

Two other Republicans have already announced plans to seek the seat currently held by McCaskill. They are former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin, a former chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt who narrowly fell short of unseating Congressman Russ Carnahan of St. Louis in November.

Video: Corker on bipartisan plan to cap spending (on this page)

Martin said Emerson would have been a formidable opponent.

"She's proven she's very smart and very experienced," Martin said. "As a candidate, I'm somewhat relieved because she's very talented."

Ann Wagner, former chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party, co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg under President George W. Bush, also is considering a bid for the Senate. She has not said when she will make the decision.

Missouri is considered a pivotal swing state in 2012 as control of the Senate could be up for grabs.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Corker on bipartisan plan to cap spending

  1. Closed captioning of: Corker on bipartisan plan to cap spending

    >> the hour. republican senator from tennessee, senator bob corcoran. i'm so glad you worked out your differences in the green room .

    >> he signed on to the act.

    >> he signed on it it.

    >> he will not say anything nice about you because it's a re-election year.

    >> that would be painful. i don't know that i like him sitting this close.

    >> oh, come on, after the state of the union .

    >> he's kidding. he's kidding.

    >> actually, andrea mitchell , senator corker actually has found a place actually in this senate, has he not? he's a republican working with democrats. that's a rarity these days.

    >> we'll have to punish you for this. senator corker was a main player on financial reform, re-regulation, a whole host of democrats. you actually know democrats. i hear that you sit with them occasionally, you've been seen in the capitol with them?

    >> really?

    >> especially on the business side. there are very few of them.

    >> you have charts, too.

    >> i don't really need to show these charts yet but i'd be glad to.

    >> go ahead. it's chart day at " morning joe ."

    >> you know, the countries are looked at by virtue of how much indebtedness they have relative to gdp and what spending is relative to gdp . what claire mccaskill have put together --

    >> it's called the commitment to america's prosperity act.

    >> one of the things that would frustrate everybody at this table, you know this well having served in congress, we never have a plan. we appreciate the things you bring up on morning shows but the fact is we never know where we're going. this would tacause there to be 7.6 trillion less in spending over the next decade.

    >> let me ask, do you go after social security , medicare , medicaid --

    >> yes, everything will be on the table. obviously when you say cut, all of us know that social security and medicare have got to be redesigned so that they will there be for seniors. everybody knows that.

    >> we're not going to actually cut it, we'll slow down the explosive rate of growth? especially for medicare and medicaid .

    >> that's exactly right.

    >> is there anybody in the senate, in the house that does not realize -- i'm just curious -- does not realize that medicare and medicaid are going to grow over the next 20 years at such a rate that we t will cripple our economy if we don't address it?

    >> there's no question. when you look at the health care debate and how it began, it was all about cost. we never dealt with the cost side, we only dealt with the access side. everyone knows we have to deal with the cost. that affects medicare , it affects medicaid and the private sector. and so, you know, that's the one area we still have not dealt with.

    >> chris, let me ask you this, chris hayes . what do you think the likelihood is that the president and perhaps republicans can take another swing at health care reform in the future, that handle cause containment more? i talk to democrats and they say, i think we were talking to howard dean who was talking about some of the same things i talked about, the fact that we have a system that spends more money per person than any other country in the world and yet it's one of the least efficient.

    >> well, look, i wouldn't say -- i think -- of the 2,500 pages, about 1,000 pages of that are a whole variety of different pilot programs that have been engineered. a lot of the stuff around, effectiveness and the med-pack.

    >> cost containment.

    >> attempts at cost containment. what is going to be the best, mocht efficient means of cost containment tomorrow is produced by evidence-based medicine.

    >> nobody believes this takes care of the problem, though, does it?

    >> no. i'm saying it's not like there's nothing in the bill --

    >> single payer would be a good way of containing costs.

    >> the white house woulgd tell you that the individual mandate is critical to cost containment. if you don't have everyone in the system, the insurers can cherry pick and you can't control cost. they say that is an e-component of bringing down costs eventually.

    >> why don't we talk about the real crisis that's coming in the short run. and i'm just wondering, i hear this comprehensive plan and i know that the debt ceiling will be voted on in a month. and i'm just warning everybody right now, don't be shocked when the vote comes up and it goes down in the house of representatives . don't be shocked when every one of those freshmen don't vote for the debt ceiling. i'm just saying don't be shocked. it's probably going to happen. and they're not going to back down like republicans did on t.a.r.p. what are the chances that we can get your plan or another plan attached to a bill to increase the debt limit? that's the only way some of these people are going to move.

    >> i think it's i have good. we need to do three things. number one as part of the cr we'll see cuts coming over from the house. i applaud that. i think we need to pass cuts and discretionary spending . i think we all know that's the least painful part of the budget. right? dealing with the discretionary spending is really, i hate to say it, painful.

    >> it's a small part of it.

    >> the next thing we need to do is put congress in a straitjacket.

    >> people know through sequestration if we don't act we'll take it down a level.

    >> instead of saying balance a budget every year, you're saying we'll be 20% of gdp .

    >> that's right.

    >> do you base that on last year's gdp , a projection of this year's gdp ?

    >> no. we take it at where we are, at 24% gdp today, down to 20.6. the third thing we need to do, we all know that in four or five years congress will fall off the wagon. okay? if we have a statutory deal like this that passes we'll be focused on something else, not this. the third thing we need to do is go ahead and pass a constitutional amendment . it takes years for that to happen. i don't think we have years to begin making those cuts. that's why this cap act is important for us to begin that downward trend towards a balanced budget down the road or some type of constitutional --

    >> interesting politics for claire m cosponsor. she is trying to move a little bit more towards budget cuts and facing a red state problem.

    >> it's going to take 13 democrats to pass anything.

    >> chris?

    >> i'd say that we should look at the revenue side, also. we have federal taxes and percentage gtb are currently 16 prs, which is the lowest since 1950 . 60-year low. if you look at the spending side, the revenue side, we're out of whack. you can't make all the solutions on p the spending side.

    >> senator bob corker . thank you very much. more with the jonathan capehart. [ folk pop

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