Rep.-elect Lauren Cheape's path to victory

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When Shelli Yoder (Miss Indiana 1992) lost in Indiana's 9th Congressional District election night — garnering 42% of the vote, despite raising and spending less than a quarter of what her opponent did  — it meant that we will have to wait at least two more years before a Miss America state queen serves in national elected office. (Note that Yoder, who won a swimsuit award at the Miss America Pageant, did earn former President Bill Clinton’s endorsement on October 31st.)

Cheape joins two other former Miss America queens currently serving at the state level: Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D), Miss Nevada 2002 (and third runner-up to Miss America), represents District 27 in Nevada’s Assembly; Tiffany Lawrence (D), Miss West Virginia 2006, represents District 65 in West Virginia’s House of Delegates. This was 34-year-old Benitez-Thompson’s first bid for reelection, following her 2010 victory. It is the second for Lawrence, 30, who was first elected to represent the 58th District in 2008.

Hoping to add her name to the ranks of young, Democratic state beauty queen politicians is Caroline Bright, Miss Vermont 2010.  Bright, 22, was thrilled that more than 7000 voted for her to represent Franklin County in the Vermont State Senate. She is quoted in St. Alban’s Messenger on the results of the election: “The margin was so small. We came 390 votes from electing the youngest female senator to any state senate in the U.S.’ history, so that’s pretty cool.” Bright — whose Miss America Platform, “Rock the World, Run for Office,” encouraged young women to run for office — set a positive example for young girls.  She is considering another run in 2014, explaining, “I think we proved a lot of naysayers wrong. There were a lot of people out there who said, ‘Oh, she’s too young,’ or ‘Oh, she’s too blond.’”

The future looks bright for more tiara-wearing pols.

Levey Friedman is a Harvard sociologist who studies beauty, childhood, and competition in American society. She is currently working on a book about beauty pageants.

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