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Missouri Republican Congresswoman Emerson quits

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Fresh off easily winning re-election, Republican U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri announced on Monday she is resigning the seat she has held for 16 years to take a new job.

Emerson, who represents southeast Missouri, said that in February she will become chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Her resignation is not expected to result in any change in the political balance in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority. Her seat is safely Republican.

"I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service - to the contrary - I see a new way to serve," Emerson said in a statement. "I did not go seeking this opportunity, but I am excited about the new challenge it offers to find ways to promote strong rural policy."

Emerson was re-elected last month with 72 percent of the vote. She was first elected to the House in 1996 in a seat left open after the death of her husband, Representative Bill Emerson. A special election called by the governor will fill her seat.

(Reporting By Kevin Murphy; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)