Many former pageant titleholders go on to be quite successful after their year of service has ended. Miss America 2003 is no exception as she just announced her bid for the Illinois Attorney General position. (Read: Former Miss World Appointed As Mayor)
About the election
Erika worked for many years in Chicago, Illinois, as a practicing attorney with the firm, Sidney Austin LLP and Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella. She now works with Meyer Capel law firm and is working to combat the negative impact she believes career politicians have made on the people of Illinois.
Harold is a two-time Republican candidate for the 13th Congressional District seat in the state of Illinois. She serves on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality and is a commissioner on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
She has now announced her run for the Illinois Attorney General seat and she will run against Lisa Madigan. Madigan is a Democrat and the first female Attorney General in Illinois. She has held the position since 2003 and is the stepdaughter of Michael Madigan who has served as the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives since 1997.
Erika Harold focuses her campaign on changing the climate of Illinois politics and upsetting the political dynasty currently in place with career politicians in Illinois. She believes that she will bring much-needed fresh ideas and a new face to Illinois politics that has been missing for quite some time. (Read: How to Market Yourself Before a Pageant)
About Erika Harold
Harold is originally from Urbana, Illinois, and first entered the Miss America preliminary competitions to pay for her attendance at Harvard Law School. She won the Miss Illinois title and an invitation to represent her state at the national Miss America pageant in 2002. She went on to win the national crown that year and give a year of service representing the United States. (Read: Politics and Pageantry: Do They Go Together?)
During her year, she promoted her platform, "Preventing Youth Violence and Bullying: Protect Yourself, Respect Yourself." Having been bullied and subjected to racist remarks growing up, the platform was a very personal choice for Harold. (Read: How to Choose the Right Platform for You)
The election for the Illinois State Attorney General will not take place until November 6, 2018, so stay tuned to see how this former titleholder's bid for the position goes!
When you are a public figure, whether a pageant girl or a politician, your views and comments are constantly scrutinized. Miss America 2003 and now Illinois Attorney General Candidate Erika Harold is learning that lesson now that an interview from her time competing in the Miss Illinois pageant is being scrutinized by a local media outlet. (Read: Miss America 2003 Announces Bid for Illinois Attorney General)
What'd she say?
Harold is running as a Republican candidate for the Attorney General position in Illinois, which means every interview she's ever done is being scrutinized. Sources focused on an interview from her time in the Miss Illinois pageant in 2000 regarding adoption by gay couples. (Read: Legislator Uses Racial and Gay Slur About Former Miss America)
Harold's mother was a social worker who was responsible for placing children into the foster care system. Harold was asked in the interview if she, like her mother, was responsible for placing children in foster care, would she choose to place the child with a loving gay couple or a heterosexual couple who are known child abusers. According to three anonymous sources, Harold chose to place the child with the heterosexual couple.
Miss America 2003, Erika Harold. Photo: REUTERS/Tim Shaffer
The three sources were all allegedly either working in or volunteering with the Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization at the time of the interview.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," one source said. "It was shocking. That pageant official recalls, 'even at a young age, it was clear she was smart . . . she stopped and had to think about it.'"
Another source said that her answer cost her the crown that year as she did not make the Top 10.
Is it true?
While she might have said that in the past, Harold certainly does not believe this anymore. The local news station running this story reached out to Harold's campaign for comment. Allegedly after repeated attempts to get a comment from the campaign, a representative from the campaign released a statement. (Read: 4 Questions You Will Be Asked During a Miss America Interview)
"Voters should first know that NBC Chicago has chosen to air an unverified story from anonymous sources 12 days before an election about an alleged event that supposedly occurred nearly two decades ago when Erika was 20 years old," the statement read. "Erika does not recall the alleged exchange, but Erika certainly support same-sex adoption and foster care placement."
Miss America 2003, Erika Harold. Photo: Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images
The Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization's Executive Director Ashley Hatfield made it clear that the allegations are false, and she expressed her disappointment with the anonymous sources that came forward.
"It is troubling that people claiming to be former pageant officials are anonymously attacking former contestants," Hatfield said. "No one associated with the Miss Illinois Organization is making these claims, and it is not representative of the organization. All current and future contestants should compete without the fear of being anonymously attacked by pageant officials. Erika was an outstanding Miss Illinois and Miss America, and we are proud of her work with our organization."
Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, announces bid for Illinois Attorney General. Photo: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images
The 2018 midterm election season and the 2020 upcoming election has everyone digging deep to find out about their political opponent. Former Miss America Erika Harold has been the latest target, and now the governor is coming to her defense.
To catch up, Harold is running for Illinois Attorney General as a Republican during the November election. During the middle of her campaign, word was circulating (from an anonymous source) that during the Illinois state Miss America competition, Harold was asked if she would place a foster kid with either a gay couple or an abusive one. It was rumored Harold chose the latter option during the private interview. (Read further: Former Miss America Under Fire For Miss Illinois Interview)
The Illinois Miss America Organization went on record to say that conversation did not happen and they since denied that this question was even asked. Now the Illinois Governor is coming to her defense.
What is he saying?
Erika Harold, center, a candidate for Illinois Attorney General, is introduced at the Governor's Day rally at the Illinois State Fair Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is at left. Photo: Rich Saal/The State Journal-Register via AP
Governor Bruce Rauner called the move a “pollical hit job” and reaffirmed his initial endorsement for Harold. She is also endorsed by Illinois’ largest newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.
The election is this November and, during a press conference, Rauner went on to say Harold is a “person of great talent and integrity and goodwill." He added that the gay adoption could be considered a “good option,” according to Newsweek. (Read: Miss America 2003 Announces Bid for Illinois Attorney General)
What is she saying?
Erika Harold was crowned Miss America 2003 in September 2002. Photo: Miss America Organization
Harold already denied having the conversation exchange during the interview. She did, however, say that what she does remember is “at the time, I would not have supported same-sex adoption, but what I want to make very clear is my position today, which is I strongly support same-sex adoption and same-sex foster parenting.” (Read: Legislator Uses Gay Slur About Former Miss America)
Her Democratic opponent, Pat Quinn (the former Governor himself), says that her comments should have alarmed the whole state.
The anonymous source alleged that the comments are what cost Harold the Miss Illinois title in 2000. Two years later, she would go on to win Miss America 2003.
The campaign trail for Harold's run at the republican nominee spot for Illinois Attorney General has been filled with highs and lows but ended up a major positive. Illinois officials are calling it a win for Harold against her opponent, DuPage County Board member Gary Grasso, with 93 percent of the precincts reporting. Harold pulled in 60 percent of the vote while Grasso managed to take 40 percent.
Photo: Chicago Tonight
The Harvard Law School graduate and former Miss America will now go on to face Democratic candidate and State Senator Kwame Raoul for the Illinois Attorney General seat. The general election will be held this coming November and it is sure to be an intense campaign.
“I’m extremely humbled so many people went out to the polls to support me, and I’m going to work hard to make sure that their interests are represented and to fight to introduce myself to the rest of the voters in the state,” Harold said.
The fight continues
Raoul has promised to focus on bi-partisanship, violence and crime in under-resourced communities if elected to the top legal position in the state. Harold has focused her attention on fighting public corruption and sexual harassment, criminal justice reform, and the opioid epidemic.
The news station that ran the story allegedly had pageant officials and contestants come forward about one of Harold's interview answers from 2001. Harold was asked in the interview if she was responsible for placing children in foster care, would she choose to place the child with a loving gay couple or a heterosexual couple who are known child abusers. According to three anonymous sources, Harold chose to place the child with the heterosexual couple. (Read further: Former Miss America Under Fire For Miss Illinois Interview)
Harold was also in the media spotlight when a candidate for the Illinois Legislature referred to her using homophobic and racial slurs. Illinois legislature candidate Burt Minor was reported to have called Harold, a “lesbo” and the “n-word” in a conversation between the two. (Read: Legislator Uses Racial and Gay Slur About Former Miss America)
Hopefully, the next campaign will run a little more smoothly for Harold. For now, it's all celebration for the former queen. Congratulations, Erika!
"Preventing Youth Violence and Bullying: Protect Yourself, Respect Yourself."
FUN FACTS about Erika Harold
Was a candidate in the Republican primary for the 13th Congressional District seat in the State of Illinois. In the first week of her reign, she also adopted a secondary platform for sexual abstinence. During her time as Miss America, Harold interacted with legislators and testified before Congress on bullying and abstinence, which provided her with additional motivation to pursue a political career.