Harold will seek 13th District nomination against Davis

Harold will seek 13th District nomination against Davis

URBANA — There's going to be a Republican Party primary election next March for the 13th Congressional District seat, but challenger Erika Harold said Tuesday she'll do her best to keep it from becoming negative.

Harold, a 33-year-old Harvard law school graduate, former Miss America and Urbana native, will take on U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, in the GOP primary.

It will be the second time the two have faced off. Last May, Republican county chairmen chose Davis over Harold as the party's replacement for former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, who had withdrawn after winning the primary.

She acknowledged that congressional campaigns "can be extraordinarily negative," but she pledged to run a positive race in the 14-county district that arcs from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Edwardsville and Collinsville on the southwest.

"About 10 years ago when I was first thinking about what it might be like to run for public office, I wrote a letter to myself about the goals that I hoped to achieve. And then I wrote also a list of defining principles, not only for the principles that were important to me from a policy perspective but also about how to conduct a campaign," Harold said in an interview after her formal announcement on the steps of Urbana High School. "One of the things I wrote was the importance of not absorbing negativity because I think the second you start to be affected by the things that people are saying about you, then it changes the focus of your campaign and you start to become bitter and resentful and not at all the vehicle of hope and change that people want you to be."

Harold never mentioned Davis in her prepared remarks and referred to him by name only once in a press conference, when she pledged to try to stay positive.

"I hope I'm not being naive in thinking that it's at least possible. That will be my attempt because I think that Rodney is a good person," she said. "It's not at all my attempt to try to destroy him personally. I think that this should be about each one of us making the case to the voters of this district why we're the best representative. I think we should both be able to point to things in our lives and our backgrounds that equip us to do that. I would hope we can do that without becoming negative."

Still, she said she understood that campaigns, especially those that are influenced by special interest groups, can go negative.

"I think the experiences I had being Miss America, facing national scrutiny and then having some issues with the national organization in terms of the type of issues I promoted, I think those experiences did prepare and equip me to handle this stage," she said. "Had I not had those experiences I don't know that I would be prepared for this. I have a pretty thick skin at this point in my life, which I know you must have if you're in politics. But I'm also someone who is pretty committed to build bridges if there is any sort of internal dissension within an organization."

"One of my biggest concerns," she said, is the outside groups that spent millions of dollars in last year's general election race between Davis and Democrat David Gill of Bloomington.

"But to the extent that I can control the commercials that I put out, and the campaign that I'm going to run, I'm going to keep it positive," she said.

Asked if she would take money from special interest groups, she didn't hesitate.

"I'm going to take money from groups that are able to donate to me," she said. "I imagine that the people who donate to me are going to be people throughout the country who donate smaller amounts of money. I recognize that if you are challenging an incumbent you likely are not going to get the same amount of money from PACs and organized groups. But I went into this knowing that because I view this as a grass roots effort, giving the people a choice and reaching out to them and seeing if they will mobilize with me to run this race."

Harold was asked why she was challenging Davis after donating $500 to his congressional campaign last year.

"I donated money because I thought he'd be a more effective representative than David Gill. But I still very strongly believe that I would be the best candidate to represent this district, not only in the general election but also to be able to represent it in Congress," she said. "I think that in order to hold this district and to be able to represent the district effectively, you have to have somebody who can persuasively and compellingly communicate conservative values but also has a demonstrated track record of reaching out to people who are not traditional Republican voters."

Harold, who is African-American, said she wants to help the Republican Party "reach out to voters who don't traditionally vote for" Republican candidates.

"It requires someone who has been in those communities for long periods of time. I think that voters find it cynical if the first time they meet a candidate it's when that candidate is asking for their vote," she said. "It's important that the party run candidates who have an experience and a track record of being involved with those groups of people because that's a starting point."

Harold's announcement in Urbana Tuesday was the first stop of a three-day, 16-city tour of the 13th District.

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alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 04, 2013 at 8:06 am
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Wow.  Good luck, Erika.  You'll have the full weight of the Republican establishment in both Washington and Springfield pummeling you for the next year, and they'll probably hold this against you for a long time.  Possibly for the rest of your political career.

I'd much prefer her to Davis, but she's biting off more than she can chew.  She should have ran for a winnable county board seat or something similar, then waited for Frerichs to retire.

EL YATIRI wrote on June 05, 2013 at 6:06 am
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I'm also rooting for Erika.

LincolnLounger wrote on June 04, 2013 at 8:06 am

What a waste of resources if she is challenging Davis.  Harold is being used as a pawn, and this is really more about jobs/contracts for Shelden and Dykstra. 

fflkommish wrote on June 04, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I think you may be underestimating the power that comes from being Miss America.  I think this is a very winnable race for her.

LincolnLounger wrote on June 04, 2013 at 2:06 pm

In the real world of high unemployment and people trying to keep their houses and families fed, nobody cares about Miss America.  Let her run for county office or the legislature, but her sense of entitlement is troubling and will waste money and time.  The incumbent will beat her like a drum, and her potential will be wasted.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on June 04, 2013 at 12:06 pm
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So is she coming at him from the right?

C in Champaign wrote on June 04, 2013 at 12:06 pm

This is a really unfortunate decision. Sour Grapes, perhaps? I was in favor of, and lobbied for Harold as the choice the first time around, I thought she was more electable in a race of little or unknown candidates, but I can't support a decision to challenge a sitting Republican who has himself well established politically and financially for the upcoming election. This will cost the party huge financial resources. If she wins the primary, it will be at the expense of party unity, and if she goes on and loses the election, she will have lost a lot of political capital in the process.

GOP Dance Party wrote on June 04, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Wait, Shelden and Dykstra are running the campaign?

I have exclusive footage of the campaign roll-out:

vcponsardin wrote on June 04, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Well, that's too bad.  She seemed like such a nice person.  There are so many more respectable and decent ways to serve your community and country than to become a politician.  In fact, I can't think of a more disreputable and despicable job--to become a member of one of the least admired and most distrusted institutions in the country, the US Congress.  It's almost as if she announced her intension to seek work in the porn industry.  I can only imagine she had no other viable options for suitable employment.  That's very sad for her--she had such promise.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on June 04, 2013 at 3:06 pm
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I think people view porn stars more favorably than congresspersons.


On the other hand, everyone seems to love his/her own congressperson. It's always the other 434 that are up to no good.

vcponsardin wrote on June 04, 2013 at 4:06 pm

In fact, no one's congressperson is as good as a porn star...

vcponsardin wrote on June 04, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Funny.  That's exactly how I feel about my own porn star.  It's everyone else's that are awful and up to no good.

C in Champaign wrote on June 04, 2013 at 4:06 pm

The draw of power and celebrity are very powerful, and the rock star status that members of congress have in DC is legendary. Fame is like a drug. I can imagine it is very difficult to "have been" in the spotlight, and the desire to get back to, or remain in it must be compelling.

vcponsardin wrote on June 04, 2013 at 4:06 pm

No kidding...

mark taylor's ghost wrote on June 04, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Would you have made the porn analogy in response to a story about a man announcing his candidacy?

Learning2B wrote on June 04, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Only if he were a former Mr. America...

EL YATIRI wrote on June 05, 2013 at 6:06 am
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She is an attorney working at Meyer Capell, suitable enough employment IMO.

GW wrote on June 04, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I'm afraid Ms Harold has read too many of her own press clippings. Running around with a Tiara perched on your head lecturing to kids is far from maneuvering your way through all of the requirements and temptations of congress.

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 04, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I am looking forward to debates.  Some good old, mud slinging would be entertaining.  Maybe, Tim Johnson will flip the coin?

Watching Urbana wrote on June 04, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Sounds like you don't want another 'Obama'. Hahahaha!!! I'm with you on that!

Nice Davis wrote on June 04, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Unlike Ms. Harold, Obama spent 4 years in the Illinois Senate before his first Congressional campaign against Bobby Rush. Your comparison is not a very good one.

Watching Urbana wrote on June 04, 2013 at 6:06 pm

As I've said before, if she wants to make her mark then she should have been here extablishing her residency in time to run for Urbana Mayor. What would have been an automatic WIN!!!

alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 04, 2013 at 6:06 pm
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LOL.  You mean an automatic blowout loss?  In case you haven't noticed, Urbana doesn't really like to elect Republicans.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 04, 2013 at 6:06 pm
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"Harold, who is African-American"

No, she isn't.  She's biracial.

"On her father's side, she has Greek, German and Welsh ancestry, and on her mother's side, Native-American, African-American and Russian descent."

EL YATIRI wrote on June 05, 2013 at 6:06 am
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Silly how multiracial folks are pigeonholed into one arbitrary category.

Nice Davis wrote on June 04, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Whatever your particular political leanings, residents of the 13th District should be grateful that there are going to be congressional primaries on both the Republican and Democratic side of the ballot. The more choices and chances for the voters to vet their representative for the next Congressional term, the better.

ashrprice wrote on June 04, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Well, there were a lot of primary options last go round, not that the Republicans cared about that. 

I'm still amazed at the ballot shenanigans from 2012. 

EdRyan wrote on June 04, 2013 at 8:06 pm

It certainly makes for a much more interesting campaign season.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 04, 2013 at 9:06 pm
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I agree that having contested primaries is vital....but who's running on the Democrat side besides Callis?  I thought they were clearing the field for her.  They gave Gill a job just to keep him from running again.

Nice Davis wrote on June 04, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I had thought U of I professor George Gollin was running, but according to his site he's still just "considering running". Dunno which way he's ultimately leaning.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 04, 2013 at 11:06 pm
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I wonder if Don Gerard is still interested?  That would be entertaining.

Nice Davis wrote on June 05, 2013 at 12:06 am

Huh. I never heard anything about that. Did he ever say that himself, or is it just talk that was going around?

EL YATIRI wrote on June 05, 2013 at 6:06 am
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That would be a riot

bluegrass wrote on June 04, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Funny how a young lady decides to run for congress, and the left wing boys club can't wait to tear her down.  This little tiara wearing porn star tart bit off a little more than she could chew, eh boys????  Huh?  Am I right?  Stay at home in the county board.  You'll be more comfortable there, you know, close to your family.  You know what I'm talking about, huh?  What, she's a Harvard Law School graduate?  Bah.  She's just in it for the fame.  

I doubt many of the commenters would vote for her even if she won the primary, but they got their shots in so it's okay.  

Oh, and thankfully we have a race clarification from Alabaster, too.  I guess Barack Milhous Obama isn't African American either.

Sexism and racism is only sexism and racism if it comes from the right.   

And all the same whiners who bemoan the fact that it's the same people over and over who win elections, and that Johnson retired so that the party could pick his successor, so quickly jump on someone simply trying to run for a congressional seat.  What a joke.


alabaster jones 71 wrote on June 04, 2013 at 11:06 pm
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Oh please, your persecution complex is showing.


It's just simple facts....she's going to be destroyed by the Republican establishment for the next year, and she's going to have a hard time ever gaining their trust again.  You don't challenge a sitting congressman in an extremely competitive district and expect there to not be retaliation.


"Oh, and thankfully we have a race clarification from Alabaster, too.  I guess Barack Milhous Obama isn't African American either."

No, he isn't.  He isn't any more black than he is white.

It amazes me that we still subscribe to the "one drop" theory to decide if one is black.

It sounds like Harold isn't even half-black, and that she is more white than she is black.  So, explain to me...how is she African American, exactly?  Is it not racist to consider her black if she has more white ancestry than black ancestry?

EL YATIRI wrote on June 05, 2013 at 10:06 am
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Ala is right, our president is as much white as he is black from a genetic standpoint.

bluegrass wrote on June 05, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Oh, well okay.  Glad we got all that straightened out!!!  I was worried there for a minute everyone was going to be too busy trying to figure out what percentage of blackness some of these politicians contain, and we'd get sidetracked and forget to keep on trashing Ms. Harold.  Whew!  Good save.

billbtri5 wrote on June 04, 2013 at 11:06 pm

is she positioning as more conservative that Davis?..can't be any more liberal...Davis is already in re election mode putting conservative values to the side..

dubsmama wrote on June 05, 2013 at 5:06 am

Why don't all you complainees get off of your butts and go do what this girl has done? It seems the Miss America title has made everyone miss the Harvard Law School title. Unfortunately, the one drop rule counts and this poor girl will just be the African American female trying to run for a seat.


Kudos to you Miss Harold! 

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 06, 2013 at 11:06 am

It is the continuing saga of so many individuals coming forward for public service as a politician.  What motivates them to serve others in such a demanding job?  It cannot be the salary, and perks.  Is it the heart felt dedication to others?  What motivated Joe Walsh, and Dick Durbin?  Why would someone make a career out of being a politician?  Is it the connections that lead to "campaign donations", and lucrative jobs later working for lobbys?  How do politicians leave office with much more wealth than when they entered office?

Yeah, I am cynical of politicians.  Illinois has the best that money can buy.  How can any rational person become excited over a politician running for office?  Voters vote for the lesser of two evils.

immto wrote on June 07, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Good Luck, I hope you smear Rodney Davis.