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VAN BUREN, Mo. (AP) -- Republican Party leaders from southeast Missouri are gathering at a popular river resort to nominate a replacement for former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.

An 86-person committee was scheduled to meet Saturday in rural Van Buren to pick one of 10 potential candidates to run in the 8th District. Whoever gets the nod will immediately become the front-runner in a June 4 special in the Republican-leaning district. Democrats will pick their candidate next weekend.

The Missouri congressional seat is one of three vacant in the nation, but it's the only one where party leaders - not voters - are picking the candidates.

Emerson resigned Jan. 22 to lead a national association for rural electric cooperatives. Missouri's 8th District had been represented by either Emerson or her late husband since 1981.
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