Erika Harold, the woman now seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for Illinois attorney general, may have once believed that gay couples were unfit to adopt children.
|Would anyone have expected Harold to speak differently back then?|
I certainly would be surprised if, some 20 years ago, a would-be Miss Illinois contestant would be spouting out talk publicly that could be considered sympathetic to the interests of gay people.
So when I read the report by WMAQ-TV about the recollections of people who were at the Drury Lane hotel in Oak Brook that Harold had less-than-progressive views on the issue, I wasn’t surprised.
I certainly didn’t find it “shocking” (as WMAQ did in the story’s headline). If anything, it would have been newsworthy if a credible Miss Illinois candidate had been willing to say something sympathetic about homosexuals, or adoption, or a combination of the two issues.
AS THINGS STAND, this has become the lone controversy to crop up in the Republican Party’s efforts to take back the state attorney general’s post from the Democrats, as four-term holder Lisa Madigan has decided to step down voluntarily when her term ends in January.
Harold, an attorney and Harvard Law School graduate, tries to present an image of herself as quite moderate and reasonable. To the point where there are some segments of the Republican Party who think she’s really not one of them.
But if all of this is true (for the record, Harold says she has no recollection of what she might have said some two decades ago), it would indicate clearly why a light-skinned black woman with a high education level would be so willing to identify herself as a Republican.
Although I also suspect she’s a Republican because, as a native of Urbana, that’s the local political party of significance in her part of Illinois. A central Illinois Democrat would be virtually irrelevant.
AS FOR WHAT it was Harold said, WMAQ-TV reported that back when she competed for Miss Illinois in 2000, she was asked a question (not as part of the public show, but backstage during interviews by pageant officials) about gay couples and adoption.
It was put to her whether it would be preferable to put a child with a loving gay couple, or with a heterosexual couple even if there were suspicions of child abuse.
Harold supposedly picked the latter, citing religious beliefs for not wanting to expose children to gay people. But as I wrote earlier, she now says she doesn’t remember any of this, and offers up general statements that imply her views have changed.
Which is good. The idea of someone aged 38 (as is Harold now) clinging to views from when she was 20 would be sad. For what it’s worth, this view didn’t help Harold win anything – she fell short in 2000, tried again in 2002 and won Miss Illinois, before going on to Atlantic City to win Miss America in 2003
ALTHOUGH THE ANSWER Harold is alleged to have given in 2000 certainly wouldn’t have been unexpected from a Republican-oriented person. Heck, it is still the attitude of many people who identify with the GOP.
Harold is taking a bit of a haughty attitude. Her official response is to say, “NBC Chicago has chosen to air an unverified story from anonymous sources 12 days before an election about an alleged event that supposedly occurred nearly two decades ago when Erika was 20 years old.” In short, lambast the reporter, rather than acknowledge the issue.
But a part of me wonders if this controversy may wind up gaining Harold a bit of political support – it would convince some people this one-time pageant contestant truly is one of them.
Considering that the few polls taken of this particular race show Harold with a very slight lead over opponent Gary Grasso – and about two-thirds of the electorate still undecided. It could help her win the primary; even if it would position her ideologically in such a way that she’d be likely to lose Nov. 6 to whichever of the eight Democrats now in the running manages to win the upcoming primary election.