Ex-Miss America latest to trade pageants for politics

Former Miss America Erika Harold is now making a bid for political office.

There she is, another Miss America hoping to trade in that crown for Congress.

Illinois lawyer Erika Harold, a 33-year-old former Miss America, launched a run for Congress this week. It will be the Republican’s second attempt at the office.

"I’ve learned our lives are defined, not by the titles we earn but rather by the service we render," she said in a YouTube video on her campaign website.

Ethan Miller / Today
Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry, pictured in 2010,could be aiming for the Senate.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Kentucky, Heather French Henry is debating a run for U.S. Senate. The Democrat and 2000 Miss America title holder is considering a challenge to the chamber’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

The two women join a growing list of beauty queens who recently have thrown their tiaras into the political ring.

Shelli Yoder was a beauty pageant runner-up in 1993.

Shelli Yoder, who finished as second runner-up at the 1993 Miss America pageant, ran unsuccessfully last fall as a Democratic nominee for Congress from Indiana. Fellow Democrat Caroline Bright, Miss Vermont 2011, also lost her race for a spot in her state Senate.

Marcel Thomas / Today
2012 Miss America Pageant contestant Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape also found success in politics.

But Lauren Cheape won her race for the Hawaii House of Representatives. Her victory last fall came just months after she jumped rope in the talent competition of the Miss America contest.


Perhaps the most famous beauty queen-turned-politician is Sarah Palin, who has turned into a Republican firebrand since chosen as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate in 2008. However, the former Alaska governor didn’t go as far in the pageant circuit: She failed to advance out of the state competition, coming in as second runner-up in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant.

As for Erika Harold, the Harvard-trained lawyer who won the Miss America title in 2003, she is promoting conservative principles in her current congressional run, which pits her against Republican incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis in the primary. She stressed her dedication to service at every point in her life, whether it was preventing bullying and youth violence as Miss America, or defending religious liberties as an attorney.

“I’ve been blessed to have had some incredible opportunites in my life,” she said in her video ad.