After voters sent a former “Saturday Night Live” star (Sen. Al Franken), a hit recording artist (former Rep. Sonny Bono) and an astronaut (former Sen. John Glenn) to Congress, a former Miss America Pageant winner wants to try her hand at lawmaking.
Erika Harold, who won the Miss America crown in 2003, passed the first hurdle this week in becoming the Republican candidate to replace Illinois Rep. Tim Johnson, who dropped out of the race two weeks after winning the GOP nomination in March.
The GOP county chairman tapped Harold, a Harvard Law School graduate who now works as a civil litigation attorney in Chicago, as one of four potential candidates to take on the Democratic nominee, physician David Gill, in November’s general election.
But while her stint as Miss America nowhere to be found on her law firm bio, Harold said the title will be a plus in her bid for Congress.
“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,” Harold told ABC News.
Much like a politician, Harold said during her reign as Miss America she had a heavy travel schedule and was constantly writing and delivering speeches, pushing policy items and trying to drive the debate about, in her case, anti-bullying efforts.
“In many ways it does help prepare you fro the type of life you have as a Member of Congress,” she added.
The beauty queen made a stir in the pageant world when, after winning the Miss America crown in 2003, she made sexual abstinence a focal point of her advocacy platform. Pageant officials pressured her to drop the hot-button issue and focus entirely on her anti-bullying efforts, a plea Harold refused to heed.
“My goal was just to talk to young people about making positive choices that would put them in a position to have the healthiest and most successful lifestyle,” Harold said. ” There was a brief moment of disagreement when we were trying to figure out what I would be able to discuss, but it blew over really quickly.”
If elected, Harold said her main focus would be on bringing down the national debt.
“I’ll be focusing on making tough choices now,” she said.
Harold, 32, faces retiring Rep. Johnson’s former chief of staff Jerry Clark, Illinois Rep. John Shimkus’ advisor Rodney Davis and the president of a nonprofit organization for special needs children Kathy Wassink in the Republican county chairmen’s final round of voting on May 19.