• 70°

This is going to be an exciting election year

Most races for Alabama’s Third Congressional seat in Congress are real snoozers. Most voters in the district have never met or shaken hands with the incumbent, much less any challengers he might have. The current incumbent, Mike Rogers, has been in office 15 years now. To his credit, he’s been very successful in running for office. He was elected to the Calhoun County Commission at only 28 years of age and served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives before seeking, and being elected to, the seat being vacated by Bob Riley in 2002. He’s been reelected six times since then, so he must be doing something right.

Of course, it could be that people get reelected out of habit or that he gets few serious challengers. It’s expensive to run for office and people have to be really good at fundraising to give it a serious shot. Most of the time, a challenger whose name is on the ballot is a vanity candidate you’ve never heard of. They have no realistic chance of winning against a better known, and much better funded, incumbent.

This year’s race could be an interesting one to watch. In November, Rogers will face a challenge from a former Miss America. Mallory Hagan of Opelika may give Rogers a run for his money.

Hagan, 29, has a lot going for her. You don’t get to be a Miss America without making favorable impressions on people, being excellent in interviews and being an advocate for worthy causes.

What I like best about her is that she went to Auburn and is a former Miss Chatt. What I respect about her is that she’s a fierce advocate for children’s rights and is very eloquent in speaking out about child abuse, something that she experienced herself as a child.

In 2013, Hagan won the Miss America competition. Her service consisted of traveling North America championing for children as the National Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In addition, Mallory has spoken with thousands about her family history of child abuse and assault and lobbied Congress to restore funding for Child Advocacy Centers with the National Children’s Alliance, successfully restoring $18 million dollars in the 2014 budget. Hagan has also consulted with over 200 clients in 47 states as part of her personal branding and marketing business and until recently was a local news anchor. She recently launched her campaign for Congress at her mother’s small business in Opelika.

Hagan recently received an endorsement from a well-known woman from Rogers’ home county, Lilly Ledbetter.

Ledbetter, who is from Jacksonville, is nationally known for suing her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co, for gender discrimination. She’d been with the company’s Gadsden plant for close to 20 years and was being paid significantly less than the men who had the same job. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that she should have sued sooner.

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Act, making it easier for women to challenge wage discrimination in court. Ledbetter is today one of the best known proponents for wage equity in the U.S.

“Mallory Hagan is a strong young woman who has taken on tough fights, and I’m proud to support her campaign for Congress,” Ledbetter said. “When the administration of the Miss America organization behaved badly toward women, Mallory took them on and made change happen. When funding for child advocacy centers was at risk, Mallory successfully demonstrated the benefits of these centers. Alabama needs more women leaders who are willing to take action, and I believe Mallory Hagan has the background and the drive to be a woman of action in Congress.”