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Former Miss America: GOP Doesn't Want Me to Run for Congress

By Courtney Coren and Kathleen Walter   |   Monday, 26 Aug 2013 06:30 PM

Former Miss America Erika Harold tells Newsmax TV that the Republican establishment is resisting her candidacy for the 13th Congressional District seat in Illinois, and the only reason they've given is that they don't want her to run against the incumbent.

"Those within the political establishment, many of them have not wanted me to wage this campaign but the only rationale that I've been given for that is simply: there's an incumbent," Harold says.

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The Former Miss America was recently blocked from speaking at Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair, a decision that was blasted by McLean County GOP Chairman John Parrot.

But competition, Harold argues, is exactly the kind of thing that should be supported in the Republican Party.

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"Because we are a party of ideas and we support the concept of free market competition and we believe that competition creates best outcomes for everyone, primaries are healthy, especially in this situation where the nomination last time was not decided by voters, but it was decided by party chairmen," she explains.

The current congressman for the 13th District of Illinois, Rep. Rodney Davis, was chosen by the Republican party chairmen from the 14 counties in the Land of Lincoln, according to state law, after then-incumbent Tim Johnson announced that he would retire after he had already won the primary.

"Under these circumstances, when we have a debate going on within the Republican Party about the direction of our party, a primary is healthy and, eventually, people within the political establishment will see that and hopefully take a position of neutrality and allow both sides to wage the best campaign possible and let the voters decide who prevails."

Harold believes that the main difference between Davis and herself is the time she has spent working to build the party at the grassroots level versus Davis's history of working within the party itself.

"He's been involved with working with the Republican Party in terms of building the party within the party structure, and I think my service has been involved more at the grassroots level, identifying issues of importance, and then working on those whether it's at the grassroots level or within the private sector," she says.

Besides winning the Miss America contest in 2003, the Illinois Republican is also an attorney who used the Miss America pageant to help pay her way through Harvard Law School. If elected, Harold would be the first African-American Republican woman to serve in Congress.

She argues that her candidacy represents the type of candidates most Republicans would like to see run for office: "I come from an unconventional background as an African American woman and as a young person, and the fact that I'm a former Miss America probably adds intrigue to my candidacy as well.

"People within our party want the political system to be more open to people who don't necessarily take the traditional political route of just serving in positions and then finally waiting their turn to run for office. Younger voters want a more inclusive approach and I've had some experience with this in terms of working with the party to do outreach to voters who may share our ideals but may not necessarily find themselves within the Republican Party."

With the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I have a Dream" speech approaching, Harold says that while she's not sure Obama and King would have agreed on policies that they are both "iconic leaders within the African American community in that they have achieved milestones that inspire young people, in particular, to believe that they can grow up and be anything that they aspire to be within this country."

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