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.
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.
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.