Less than a year after Republican county chairmen in the 13th District turned down her candidacy for Congress, Urbana native Erika Harold is moving back to Champaign-Urbana and has indicated an interest in running for public office.
CHAMPAIGN — Less than a year after Republican county chairmen in the 13th District turned down her candidacy for Congress, Urbana native Erika Harold is moving back to Champaign-Urbana and has indicated an interest in running for public office.
But she declined to say Monday if she is looking at a local, state or federal position.
"At this point I plan to make an announcement regarding future political plans within a couple of weeks," said the former Miss America, who grew up in Urbana, and graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from Harvard.
Almost a year ago — on May 19, 2012 — the 14 Republican county chairmen in the 13th Congressional District chose Rodney Davis to be their candidate, replacing the retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, on the ballot. Davis was chosen over Harold, then at the Chicago law firm of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella; former Johnson aide Jerry Clarke; and Kathy Wassink of Shipman.
Harold, 33, started work on May 6 at the Republican-connected Champaign law firm of Meyer Capel.
She currently is registered to vote in Cook County. She had been registered in Champaign County up to 2009, when she moved to Chicago. She said she is living with her parents in Urbana until she finds a permanent home.
On Monday, Harold denied that she had anything to do with a number of updated websites, including erikaforcongress.com and erikaharoldforcongress.org. She said the sites are left over from last year's unsuccessful attempt to win the nomination.
And Andrew Flach, a spokesman for Davis, said he hasn't heard any talk of Harold challenging the incumbent congressman in the GOP primary next March. Davis already has almost $335,000 in his campaign fund and has been declared a recipient of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Patriot program, aimed at protecting 11 especially vulnerable congressmen.
Two Democrats already have announced that they are interested in the 13th District race: University of Illinois physics Professor George Golin and former Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis of rural Troy.
The 13th District, which arcs from Champaign-Urbana southwest to Edwardsville and Collinsville, is considered one of the most competitive congressional districts in the United States. Last November, Davis defeated Democrat David Gill of Bloomington by 1,002 votes.
But other positions on the 2014 ballot — and potential targets for a Harold candidacy — include all statewide positions, from governor to state treasurer, state representative in the 103rd District (now held by Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana); and the Senate seat now held by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. The state Senate seat held by Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs is not up for election until 2016.
Harold, who was Miss America 2003, had been considered politically conservative but she showed a moderate tone in last year's interview process among the Republican hopefuls for Johnson's seat.
"What is really at stake in this election is about two competing conceptions of government. The Democratic Party feels it's the government's role to take care of people from cradle to grave. They believe in the expansion of government," Harold said at one candidate forum. "And I'm not denigrating the motives. The motives are good. They want to care for people. But we as Republicans have a completely different conception of government.
"We know that our conception of limited government is really what empowers people. It creates the greatest amount of wealth for the greatest number of people. That is really what's at stake."
Harold, a graduate of Urbana High School, received a bachelor's degree in political science from the UI, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 2007, she received her law degree from Harvard.
At Meyer Capel, she will be an associate attorney focused on general litigation and a more specialized health care practice.
"In the health care practice, it could be some litigation, but it also could be some risk management and providing guidance about compliance with different regulations relating to health care," she said.