Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dog Eats Dog...Is the GOP Ready for Erika Harold?

There was the ugly email from a GOP county chairman calling Harold “a streetwalker.” The bizarre snub at the state fair. The adamant rejection when she asked to use Republican voter data. And the frequent suggestion she would be better off running for something—anything—else.

“One thing after another,” lamented Doug Ibendahl, a Chicago attorney and former state GOP general counsel who considers Harold a “top notch” candidate. “There are people in the Republican Party who are actively working against her who shouldn’t be.”

It does seem odd. Harold would appear to be exactly the kind of candidate the GOP needs: Miss America 2003. A speaker at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Harvard Law School grad. A practicing attorney interested in the Constitution. She is just 33 years old, close enough to count as one of the coveted “millennial” voters herself. The product of a mixed-race marriage—her father is white, her mother is African-American—Harold has a background that recalls that of another Illinois politician, a guy who went on to hold a pretty lofty office himself.

Harold doesn’t fit neatly into the taxonomy of today’s Republican factions: She is not a middle-of-the-road Republican. Nor is she a neocon, a Tea Partier or a strict libertarian cribbing Ayn Rand quotes. She calls herself a constitutional conservative. She is anti-abortion rights, pro-gun, believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. She does not support marijuana legalization. She wants to repeal Obamacare. She also is against the death penalty, because, she says, the sentences are too dependent on the varying quality of the accused’s attorneys.

A few days after Harold announced, she was on the Fox & Friends morning show, where Gretchen Carlson interviewed her. Carlson herself had been Miss America, in 1989, and it was a breezy pageant-sister-to-sister talk. Harold told Carlson she hoped people would see her, this non-typical conservative, and think, “maybe the Republican Party can be a welcoming place for me as well.”

But Harold’s own welcome was short-lived. A week later, Jim Allen, a GOP county chairman in the 13th district, sent a message to an independent Republican website that began, “Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.” He also wrote that Harold was being used “like a street walker.”
“That was quite an email,” Harold recalled.

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