(CNN) – Erika Harold, who won the 2003 Miss America pageant, announced Tuesday she's mounting a Republican primary challenge to Rep. Rodney Davis in Illinois.
She's the second former holder of the Miss America crown to publicly eye a spot on Capitol Hill – in May, the 2000 winner Heather French Henry said she was considering jumping into the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, which could see her pitted against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Making her announcement in a video Tuesday, Harold said she was "blessed to have had some incredible opportunities," including her year-long tenure as Miss America, along with her degree from Harvard Law School, which her website says she financed thanks to scholarships from her pageant win.
"Our lives are defined not by the titles we earn but rather by the service we render," Harold says in the video. "At each point in my life, I've sought to serve, whether it was defending religious liberties as an attorney, preventing youth violence and bullying as Miss America, or doing prison ministry as a volunteer."
Since receiving her law degree, Harold has worked as a lawyer in Illinois. She served on President George W. Bush's "W Stands for Women" steering committee during his 2004 re-election bid, and spoke at that year's Republican National Convention.
In Kentucky, French Henry said in early May that she was "not ready to confirm or deny" that she was considering a run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell isn't up for re-election until November 2014, but the race has drawn early headlines as Democrats consider stepping in. Actress Ashley Judd mulled a bid, eventually deciding against running after attack videos from McConnell started airing.
On her official website, French Henry is listed as a veterans advocate, author/illustrator, artist/fashion illustrator, fashion designer, and public speaker. Her biography notes she received a bachelor's and master's degree in Fashion Design from the University of Cincinnati.
She's married to Steve Henry, the former lieutenant governor of Kentucky, who himself ran for U.S. Senate in 1998. He was embroiled in numerous controversies during his tenure, including using state employees to work at his wedding, and spending state funds to travel to the Miss America pageant.
After the Kentucky GOP described French Henry as a "bottom-of-the-barrel pick" for Democrats, the potential candidate took to her blog to decry the nasty state of politics.
"This is why the nature of politics has to change...it should not be about the 'party' but about the people," she wrote, adding that her decision on jumping into the race would come soon.
"At each point in my life, I've sought to serve, whether it was defending religious liberties as an attorney, preventing youth violence and bullying as Miss America, or doing prison ministry as a volunteer."
Ms. Harold seems to be more politically savvy compared to Ms. French Henry. French Henry's husband tarnishes her image. But I'm no republican so I can care less.
your strategy skills need work. why not move to a district where a republican doesn't already hold the seat?
Another family that likes to use taxpayer money for personal use. Traveling to padgets on the taxpayer dime. Liberals really love the perks.
REALLY...and this is the party you are wanting to represent?????...
BUT it is the party you want to represent???? so why not run as an INDEPENDENT??? you are running for the group that called you the bottom of the barrel??? just confused with this one.....plain and simple.....
A beauty queen has got to be better than a sour puss.....
Who would have thought that the Miss America Pageant would be a launching pad for political leaders? I guess they really do want "world peace"...........
It is about time we get a hottie in that white house.
And while we are discussing women's fashion choices, which one of Meemaw McCain's fashion "experts" told her that dressing like a giant conche shell would make for memorable wedding pictures at her son's wedding?
This is politics, not another pageant miss, I'm sorry to be blunt but, stop trying to talk pageant perfect already.
It looks like she is "well-qualified" to operate as a politician - Her hubby can coach her in the methodology of Influence Money and Corruption ! !
I wonder if she wants world peace....
....and the Tea Party says........"Harvard.....another one of those SMARTY PANTS we are gonna have ta beat".
And what service is Mrs. Harold-Henry going to give the republican party? Put all those old guys in order and make them work for our citizens and our country. If she can and does, she will be the first woman in that party that has done anything so for!
Is this a qualification???
I wish she would be running for my house.
The same people that voted for Sarah Palin because they thought she was good looking will vote for Erika Harold.
She looks like the right MAN for the job !
Hi my name is FRANK!! I like this story.
Gurgyl - Is this a qualification???
granted, she's no dog catcher like obama was but she will do.
Hell, why not?! I suppose if one has the $$$ to make a political run, then they should. This is still AMERICA after all. (Heavy on the sarcasm)
I'll convene her caucus.
The difference between her, Sarah Palin and the other one from KY is this one is a lawyer. She would eat Caribiu Barbie for lunch.
Good for both of these ladies. Stepping into the political arena is a difficult and courageous decision to make. It is a nasty place even for those with the best intensions and spotless pasts. I've spent time behind the scenes and it's not pretty. McConnell's immediate attack ads on Judd shows how fast and hard political reactions can be. They don't always have to make sense to appeal to the base, just be catchy. McConnell obviously intends to defend his turf and will fight hard.