Standing in her family’s Opelika dance studio and surrounded by three generations of her family, Mallory Hagan officially announced her bid as a Democrat for U.S. Congress Tuesday morning.
“Over the last 16 years, this congressional district has been in a situation where many of its constituents do not feel heard, do not feel that their representative is listening, do not feel that they get a response when they reach out to their representative,” Hagan said on Tuesday.
Rep. Mike Rogers, Republican from Saks, was first elected in 2002, succeeding Bob Riley as the representative for Alabama's 3rd Congressional District, which includes Lee County.
Hagan has generated buzz around a run since an online crowdfunding page for her campaign went live last week.
Hagan, originally from Opelika, was recently launched back into the national spotlight after vulgar emails from Miss America CEO, Sam Haskell, were leaked. Hagan was one of the women attacked in the emails, with some describing her as “fat and gross.” Haskell stepped down after the emails were made public.
The former Miss America winner hit back, saying the emails exposed the sexist culture of the organization.
“It does not matter what organization or profession you are in, that type of language being used in interoffice communication is just not OK,” she previously told The Plainsman.
The 29-year-old said she’s been in the political arena for much of her life. During her time in pageants, from as early as 13 years old, she became an advocate for causes like arts education in schools, the body positivity movement and child abuse awareness.
“As Miss America, and in the years leading up to that, I honed the opportunity and the skills to go out into the community and help people understand the problems that we were facing and then converse with them, listen to them and figure out how we can all work together to solve those problems,” she said.
Hagan has lobbied Congress on behalf of the National Children’s Alliance and said they were able to secure funding for the organization’s advocacy centers across the country in 2014.
The 2013 Miss America winner cited a lack of gender and age diversity as another reason for her run. There are 84 women in the House of Representatives, only four of who are under the age of 40.
“This has just become our status quo,” Hagan said. “We’ve been told that this is just how things work and we have to play the game if we want to see things change, or we don’t play the game at all because we don’t know how we’re supposed to see things change. And I just simply don’t accept that.”
“I look forward to working with the people of this state, of this district and of our country to make the world we live in a better place, and I hope that in joining 390 other women who are running across the country that we can make the new norm, and we can get rid of what has been the status quo.”
Hagan has already raised close to $15,000 for her campaign through the crowd-funding website, and with no other Democrat in the district having announced a candidacy, she may have an easy path to November’s general ballot.
“Any kind of new undertaking is nerve-wracking, and as far as being a parent – that never stops,” said Phil Hagan, Mallory’s father. “But if there’s anything that I’m sure she’s ready for – it’s this.”