Miss America Goes to Washington: What to Know About Erika Harold


Erika Harold, also known as Miss America 2003, who has recently been rumored to be running for Congress in Illinois, is expected to announce her candidacy for office on Tuesday, reports The Pantograph. And she could very well win!

This move isn’t sudden for Harold; she’s from Illinois and is a Harvard Law graduate. She’a also spoken at the RNC and considered a run for office last year. In 2002, it was reported that she signed up for Miss America in the first place because she viewed it as a “dry run” for her plans to run for office. This time around, she’ll be running against incumbent republican Rodney Davis, who Politico reports “had the narrowest margin of victory of any Republican voted to Congress last election cycle.”

In this video from 2012 shot when she was stumping for office, Harold discussed her work advocating for the first amendment rights of religious organizations, as well as her passion for low taxes and limited government oversight. So in case you couldn’t tell, she’s a Republican also.

When she was attempting to win Miss America, Harold took a strong anti-bullying stance, which she managed to combine with a platform of advocating for abstinence-only education. In 2002, Lara Riscol at Salon wrote:

“…if she is as successful with her bid for office as she was in her reach for the tiara, Harold, an unabashed Christian conservative and perhaps the most famous virgin since Britney Spears, just might become president one day, not just queen of the new sexual revolution.”

A month prior to that, Jake Tapper wrote an extensive profile of Harold; in the article, he described her as “maybe interesting.” He also painted her as an underdog and a surprise win for the title of Miss America:

“She wasn’t a contender in the swimsuit competition, or evening gown, or even talent. (She performed an aria from Bizet’s ‘Carmen,’ revealing decent vocal skills but modest range.) But, in a twist never before accomplished in a Miss America pageant, Harold won by blowing away the seven Miss America judges with her intelligence, quickness, presence and genuineness in her closed-door interview.”

Tapper made the argument that Harold’s win was some sort of message from the Miss America judges who had been “browbeat by feminists and media elites”, in that they wanted to prove that they could pick a serious, beautiful woman as a winner of a pageant often criticized for its lack of seriousness. Though Harold expressed passion for pageants, she also has made it clear she used her scholarship money to finish her schooling. (Yeah, yeah.)

Though Harold’s competition, Rep. Davis, might have a weak hold on his district, he has a ton of money in the bank and he’s also reportedly got the full support of the National Republican Congressional Committee. But what he doesn’t have: a tiara, the ultimate shiny “It Factor.”

Image via Brian Branch-Price/AP

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