By Christian Smith
Mallory Hagan, crowned Miss America in 2013, wanted to change the stereotypes Americans have about Alabama.
So she decided to run for Congress.
"We are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to healthcare, when it comes to government transparency, when it comes to education, quality of life. But we are at the top when it comes to corruption," Hagan said in an interview on Cheddar Monday. "So many people have a really awful view of our state, and it's a really beautiful place."
Hagan won the Democratic nomination for Alabama's third congressional district in the June 5 primary. She will take on the 16-year incumbent, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, in the general election on November 5.
Rogers won his last campaign in 2016 by 34 points over the Democratic challenger Jesse Smith. But despite the district's conservative voting record, Hagan believes she can make inroads by galvanizing local college students who don't normally vote.
"My plan is to engage young people in this process, get them involved in this campaign and show them that their vote and their voice does in fact matter, and that their involvement in politics is crucial to the future of our nation," Hagan said.
At the heart of her campaign is the goal of fixing Alabama's healthcare system. The state has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. In 2016, nine out of every 1,000 newborns died before reaching their first birthday, which is a higher rate than many developing nations.
Hagan's critics question whether her experience as Miss America has any relevance in politics. In the 29-year-old's eyes, winning the title and working with charitable causes around the country was the perfect prep for serving in Congress.
"I've represented our nation before, and I'm ready to represent the people of Alabama," Hagan said.
For full interview, click here.