There hasn't been much talk about the U.S. Eighth District in recent years, mainly because it's been assumed that U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, would cruise to re-election.
It's not a bad assumption. Emerson has won her re-election bids with percentages well north of 60 to 70 percent of the vote. There also haven't been many Democratic opponents who have been able to raise enough money to vie for the seat.
But a Democratic challenger to Emerson - Rolla resident Tommy Sowers - may break the mold. The teacher at the Missouri University of Science and Technology announced raising roughly $200,000 for the quarter. Sowers officially entered the congressional contest 21 days before the fundraising filing deadline.
Sowers' release includes a quote from Missouri Democratic Party chairman Craig Hosmer stating that Sowers' haul "is about the strongest support I’ve seen for a
candidate - first timer or incumbent."
"These numbers demonstrate peoples’ belief that a strong leader who served his country in the US Army is exactly the kind of leader we need to send to Congress to serve his fellow residents in the 8th District,” Hosmer said in a statement.
Those type of numbers could make the Eighth District race worth watching during the election cycle. It follows the pattern of races - such as ones in the U.S. Fourth District and the U.S. Third District - that could be more eventful than in years past.
But it should be noted that the district features some Republican-heavy population centers, such as Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff and West Plains. And if U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton's potential GOP opponents are hamstrung by the Lexington Democrat's electoral history, then Emerson's record of winning re-election by big margins has to be considered.
Southeast Missouri does have a Democratic history. It's the region that brought the state Warren Hearnes, a native of Charleston. Democrats hold Missouri House seats that encompass parts of the Bootheel. And Rolla, of course, is the home base of the Carnahan family, one of the most famous political clans in the state.