Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) has decided not to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in 2012, leaving the Republican field without a more moderate option for the time being.
"I'm honored to have been approached by so many encouraging people about the opportunity to serve our state in the U.S. Senate," Emerson said in a statement. "I gave the matter a significant amount of consideration, talked it over with my family, and consulted with my trusted advisers and staff. We talked about what I can do as a junior member of the Senate and what I can do as a senior member of the U.S. House, and I decided the best possible way to serve Southern Missouri -- as well as the entire state -- is from my current post."
Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) and Rep. Russ Carnahan's (D) 2010 challenger Ed Martin (R) are the only two candidates currently in the race for the Republican nod, and are vying for tea party support. Rep. Sam Graves (R) and former Sen. Jim Talent (R) both passed on the race, and former RNC co-chair Ann Wagner (R) is said to be seriously considering a bid.