Erika Harold: Miss America Tries to Save the Republican Party

Suppose you were a political party that had a serious image issue with minorities and women. Suppose that same party was having an internal civil war between its social conservative and civil libertarian wings. Finally, suppose you commissioned a study on how to address and attract minority, women, and young voters, particularly in traditional blue states. Would you actively recruit for people who represent your party's values and platform while openly demonstrating that those values are appealing to these demographics?

The Republican Party has an opportunity to do just that in the blue state of Illinois. Meet Erika Harold. Harold is challenging Rep. Ronald Davis for Illinois's 13th Congressional district seat. In 2012, Harold lost in her bid to replace outgoing Representative Tim Johnson. Davis was nominated by the Republican County Chairmen for the 14 Illinois counties comprising the 13th district and went on to narrowly beat Democratic challenger David Gill by a margin of 1,002 votes (0.3%).

Because of this narrow victory Democrats had targeted this district, which stretches from Champaign to Edwardsville, as one that they could flip in the 2014 election. Harold also believes Davis is vulnerable.

Harold is a former Miss America (2003) that went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Illinois. She received her JD from Harvard Law School in 2007 and worked as an associate at Sidley Austin LLP, one of the largest law firms in America.

Harold was a delegate for George Bush in 2004 and is a Christian social conservative. Her official platform as Miss America was as an advocate for youth violence and bullying and sexual abstinence, specifically abstinence-only sexual education curriculum.

Harold represents the new version of Miss America, socially conservative, intelligent, and politically aware. In an extensive profile written on Salon. Com, Jake Tapper wrote "Harold won by blowing away the seven Miss America judges with her intelligence, quickness, presence and genuineness in her closed-door interview."

The 33-year-old, multi-racial Harold is a First Amendment advocate for religious organizations, low taxes, and limited government oversight.

In her announcement, Harold said "I'll advocate for fiscal responsibility, work to safeguard our constitutional liberties, and promote our district’s agricultural and educational interests."

Harold seems to be the kind of candidate that the GOP should be lining up to support if they want to showcase how their conservative message appeals to the young, minority woman.