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Congress

Former Miss America running for 13th Congressional District seat

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GOP forum

Erika Harold, right, speaks with Bruce Pillsbury, left, Thursday, May 17, 2012, before the start of a McLean County Republican forum held at Eastland Suites and Conference Center in Bloomington. (Pantagraph/CARLOS T. MIRANDA)

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MONTICELLO — A former Miss America is throwing her hat into next year’s race for the 13th Congressional District.

Erika Harold, a Champaign native who lived in Chicago until last month, announced Tuesday she would seek the Republican nomination in next year’s race, setting up a primary battle against freshman U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville. Democrat Ann Callis, a former Madison County judge, recently announced she’s also vying for the post.

In addition to focusing on limited government and individual autonomy, Harold, an attorney, said Tuesday she wants to use her campaign to reach out to those who may not have voted Republican in the past.

“I think there are a lot of people who share conservative values who for whatever reason have not voted for Republican candidates,” she said.

Harold, a graduate of University of Illinois and Harvard Law School, moved back to Urbana last month after having practiced law in Chicago. Though she has not held a political office, Harold said she understands constituent issues because of her outreach work with youths with incarcerated family members and with African-American and women’s groups.

“The experiences I have are identifying issues that are important to people and then helping to develop the movement to affect change,” she said.

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When asked about the primary challenge, Harold said it would be “healthy” for the party to debate ideas and give voters a choice at the polls.

Harold and Davis competed in May 2012 to replace Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana on the ballot after he unexpectedly dropped out of the race after the primary. County Republican leaders in the district chose Davis.

While Harold has the support of Johnson and some members of his staff, other prominent Republicans said they will stick with Davis.

“You won’t find a more passionate and effective advocate for the residents of central and southwest Illinois than Rodney Davis,” said former Gov. Jim Edgar. “In the short time he’s been in office, he’s proven that can put politics aside to get things done and make a difference in Washington.”

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