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Emerson sports jeans and anti-government talk in first TV ad

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, has gone on the air with her first campaign TV spot -- which features her in jeans talking about jobs, blasting Washington and "the government."

Emerson, who has been in office since 1996 and remains Missouri's first and only Republican woman elected to Congress, offers up an outside-the-beltway image as she heads into her latest re-election bid.

Standing in a farm field in front of a worn fence, she seeks to make clear to the viewer that she has been at odds with the Democrats running Congress on health care, energy legislation and taxes.

Her theme: "Standing up for us." (And that's referring to her rural southeast Missouri district, not Washington.)

Her new ad appears more combative and partisan than her 2006 TV spot, which featured Emerson in a suit emphasizing her political independence (in a year that turned out to be strongly Democratic) and her quest for bipartisanship. (A Democratic donkey shared space with a GOP elephant in that 2006 ad.)

The 2010 and 2006 ads offer a textbook contrast -- and lesson -- on how congressional incumbents survive by making tweaks in their public image.

Emerson, by the way, faces a challenge from Democrat Tommy Sowers, a military veteran who has generated some early buzz.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.