“When I go into a room,” Erika Harold says, “there’s usually nobody else that looks like me.”
Well, yes, that would be true. Harold was Miss America in 2003.
But Harold is talking about something else. In a recent conversation with the Sun-Times Editorial Board, she pointed out that she is an African-American woman in a Republican Party dominated by white men.
As a non-typical Republican, she explains, she’s in a better position to “build consensus” within the party and with Democrats.
Our endorsement in the Republican primary for attorney general of Illinois goes to Harold. The state Republican Party could use more diversity, to be sure, but more importantly, we admire Harold for her accomplishments post-Miss America, and for her positions on criminal justice reform. As attorney general, she says, she would advocate for ways to reduce recidivism rates among felons, and she would work for changes in the bail-bond system so as to give a fairer shake to the poor and minorities.
Harold is a Harvard-trained lawyer. She also is a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality, and a director of Prison Fellowship, the world’s largest outreach service to inmates and their families.
Harold has little experience in criminal law, and she has never held public office, but she has experience in commercial litigation and constitutional law. She says she would investigate the big drug companies to see if they knowingly downplayed or misrepresented the risks of the opioids. And, she says, she would work with the Legislature to give the attorney general’s office more tools to investigate public corruption.
Harold is opposed by DuPage County Board member Gary Grasso, who has a wealth of experience in elective office and as a lawyer. We are troubled, though, that Grasso in 2012 wanted to hold two public jobs at the same time — county commissioner and mayor of Burr Ridge — until the voters in a referendum made it clear they frowned on that sort of thing. Double-dipping is so old-school.
In Erika Harold, we would like to believe we’re seeing the future of a more inclusive Republican Party.
When Republicans running for attorney general visited the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board on Jan. 16, we asked them to introduce themselves to voters. Watch Erika Harold’s response:
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