Ex-Miss America Erika Harold runs for Congress

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Former Miss America winner Erika Harold began her campaign for Congress in Illinois’ 13th District, on Tuesday.

She announced her intention to run for Congress at a press conference held in her hometown of Urbana, Illinois. Harold will challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in the 2014 Republican primary.

Harold is the 6th African-American woman to win the Miss America title, and could be one of several African-Americans represented in Congress.

The ex-beauty queen was crowned in 2003, and spent her term advocating for her platform of “Preventing Youth Violence and Bullying: Protect yourself, Respect Yourself.”  She speaks in her campaign video about the “incredible opportunities” she has had throughout her lifetime including her university experiences and time as Miss America.

This congressional run is not the University of Illinois and Harvard Law School graduate’s first encounter with politics. Harold has worked as an attorney in Chicago, handling civil liberty issues for religious institutions as well as serving as a delegate to the 2004 National Convention under former president George W. Bush.

In 2012, Harold was passed over by Republican Party officials in favor of Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) as one of four Republican finalists to replace longstanding Rep. Tim Johnson on the ballot after he abruptly dropped out of contention.

Though her reign as Miss America may be drawing a lot of attention to her past, Harold says that she believes her Miss America status could be a positive influence on her political future.

She told ABC News, “Hopefully, it’s a thing that gets someone’s attention, but then they will see that I graduated from Harvard Law School…and in a wide variety of ways am qualified to be in Congress.”

Erika Harold represented her country in 2003 as Miss America and now hopes to serve it again in the U.S. House of Representatives, if she wins the 2014 election, scheduled to be held in November of that year.