Former Miss America Erika Harold is campaigning to win in Illinois again– but this time as the state’s attorney general.
Harold, a GOP candidate, is currently the frontrunner to be her party’s nomination going into the March primary. She appears poised to make the most of her latest campaign despite the uncertainty as to whether she will have a worthy Republican challenger. She previously ran for Illinois’ 13th district Congressional seat in 2014 where she was the runner-up in the primary to eventual winner Rodney Davis.
Harold, a litigator by trade who received her law degree from Harvard, cites her experience in the courtroom along with her service on multiple Illinois Supreme Court committees as preparation for what lies ahead if she is elected.
“I feel like our next attorney general has to be someone who understands what it’s like to come from a position where you don’t have influence and you don’t have power and you don’t have privilege because those are the experiences that will make you wake up each day and work hard for people who need you to be their advocate,” said Harold.
Harold said addressing criminal justice reform, political corruption, public corruption, and widespread opioid use are key items on her political agenda. She pledged too to be a champion for women as she intends to introduce an independent body to assess reports of sexual harassment and assault throughout the state to quell fears of retaliation.
“This #MeToo movement has showcased how important it is that women are given an equal opportunity within the workplace and [made] pervasive the issue of sexual harassment across all sectors and all industries,” said Harold. “It’s important that we look at what we can do to change the culture of harassment that exists within our society. We need to stand up and try to defend people who have been victimized because we can’t just place the burden on victims to stand up for themselves, we all have a role to play in terms of being an advocate.”
The Champaign-Urbana native faces a challenge in attempting to convince voters to consider the GOP in the traditionally deep blue state of Illinois. She said she wants to use her current platform to engage individuals within her party to extend themselves with all voters. She said both parties need to work harder to reach out to all voters.
When asked about biases people may have for the GOP, Harold said she is focused on what she can bring to the office and hopes people will focus on the candidates and policies and not just the parties.
“One of the things I’ve heard throughout the state is that they’re excited to see a woman of color on the Republican ticket and it gives them a sense that regardless of which party prevails, there is someone out there representing their interests,” said Harold.
Harold, the only woman of color to run for Illinois attorney general in this election, is well aware of some of the battles women of color must endure. During her 9th grade year in high school, she said she was racially and sexually harassed to the point where she had to transfer to a different school. She said what originally started with name calling, teasing, and taunting eventually escalated to vandalism of her home and death threats.
“That experience of feeling marginalized and powerless is one of the reasons why I decided to become an attorney,” said Harold about the ordeal. “I wanted to stand up for people who needed someone to fight for them.”
Harold said while she intends to fight for the entire state of Illinois, she does recognize her position would make her both accountable to and a role model of sorts within the African-American community.
“Being a role model in the Black community would be something that’s an incredible honor,” said Harold. “Anytime you’re in a physical position of leadership, you have the possibility to give hope and the sense of the possible for a large group of people, and that’s what I would want– particularly for young children of color–when they saw me.”
To learn more about Erika Harold’s campaign, visit erikaharold.com/.