By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Mallory Hagan is no stranger to the spotlight. From her days as Miss New York and Miss America to her current role as a local news anchor, she’s often been out front.
But she’s considering a new public role, one in public office. The former Miss America, who was crowned the winner in 2013, is considering a run as a Democrat for Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes large swaths of East Alabama.
“I promise to be your voice for better education, for quality jobs, for fair wages, for access to affordable healthcare, for environmental sustainability, and for gender parity,” Hagan said in a fundraising announcement Monday.
If she chooses to run, Hagan, from Opelika, would challenge 16-year Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, from Saks, if Rogers wins his primary in June.
Hagan announced an exploratory campaign on her Twitter accounted Monday, launching a CrowdPAC crowd-funding account that has already raised more than $7,000 in just a few hours. She’s also claimed a HaganforHouse.com domain and launched a campaign Twitter account.
The former Miss America was brought to the center of a national controversy last year after the release of dozens of sexist and derogatory emails from Miss America CEO Sam Haskell, according to The Huffington Post, which published the email.
The leaked emails showed Haskell using vulgar, sexist and offensive language to describe former Miss America contestants including Hagan, whom Haskell appeared to have a particular dislike of. Some emails showed Haskell discussing Hagan’s body and private sex life, others described her as “fat and gross” and a “piece of trash.”
After Hagan, former Miss America Gretchen Carlson, now the chairman of the pageant, and dozens of other former Miss Americas spoke out against Haskell’s behavior, he and other pageant executives were forced to step down.
Hagan started a Change.Org petition calling for Haskell and several members of the Miss America board to be removed after she told media outlets that board members were aware of the emails. The petition received more than 18,000 signatures and several board members were forced from their posts.
“I told my story. It was difficult, but it sparked meaningful change. This experience transformed me,” Hagan said.
Most recently, Hagan has worked as an evening news anchor for the Columbus, Georgia, NBC affiliate, WLTZ First News. She’s also been a body positive advocate after being publicly fat-shamed for a bathing suit photo that surfaced shortly after her 2013 pageant win. Later, she became a children’s advocate, volunteering with community organizations that help sexual abuse victims.
In her fundraising announcement, Hagan said she has always strived to stand up for others.
“I’ve always believed that we have to look out for and protect one another,” Hagan said.
Running as a Democrat, Hagan said constituents in Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District haven’t been properly represented.
“politicians in this area are more concerned with special interests than representing the people of District 3,” she said. “For the past 16 years, the constituents of this district have been ignored, deceived, and, at times, belittled. This is not leadership.”
Hagan pointed to economic hardship as a key reason she may seek the Congressional seat. In Anniston, she pointed to the closure of Fort McClellan. In Talladega, 31 percent of residents live below the poverty line. In Alexander City, residents have reeled from the loss of Russell Athletic and 6,500 jobs since 2012.
In her hometown of Opelika, Hagan said less than 34 percent of K-12 students are proficient in reading. In it’s neighboring city, Auburn, 50 percent of single moths struggle financially to care for their children, she said.
“These are only a few of the difficult stories you will hear in communities throughout this district,” she said. “We deserve better.”
Hagan said if she runs and is elected, she would be a “strong advocate” who would put needs ahead of “partisan rhetoric.”
“I want to fight for the future of Alabamians,” Hagan said. “In the coming months, I will take every opportunity to get to know the citizens of our district, listen to their concerns, and focus on improving the circumstances and institutions that surround their lives.”
Hagan declined to comment on this story but has said she would be making a decision in the coming weeks. The party qualification period ends Feb. 9 and the Democratic Party primary is scheduled for June 5, 2018. No other Democrats have qualified for the race.