SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said Tuesday that former Miss America Erika Harold's decision to challenge him in the 2014 Republican primary election is sad, but not surprising.
The freshman congressman from downstate Taylorville told reporters at the Illinois Capitol that he's trying to focus on issues in Washington, D.C., rather than on the Champaign attorney's upstart bid to unseat him in Illinois' 13th District after less than six months in office.
"I'm not surprised by anything," Davis said. "It's sad because it seems like we just got over the last campaign. I think the folks of this district are tired of the constant campaigning, which is why I'm going to focus on my job."
Harold lost a bid to Davis last year to be appointed by party leaders to run on the GOP ballot after former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana announced his retirement.
Since then, the 2003 beauty pageant winner has moved from Chicago to her childhood hometown in central Illinois. Last week, she announced her plans to challenge Davis while on a three-day tour of the district, which stretches from Bloomington-Normal in the central part of the state to Edwardsville near St. Louis.
Former Madison County Judge Ann Callis of Troy announced earlier that she is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat.
Although the general election was already expected to draw big money from both parties, the primary is now drawing some national interest as well because of Harold's profile as a Harvard educated African-American conservative who also won the Miss America competition.
On Monday morning, for example, she appeared on the Fox News TV network.
Davis, who was in Springfield as part of a congressional subcommittee hearing on railroad spending, had little to say about Harold.
"This is an issue that we'll deal with when it comes time to campaign," he said. "It just feels like the campaign never ends."