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Former Miss America Cara Mund to run for Congress as an independent

mark6mauno via Flickr

Miss America is running for Congress.

Cara Mund, the winner of the 2018 Miss America pageant and native of Bismarck, North Dakota, has announced she is running as an independent for the state's at-large congressional district seat currently held by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).

Mund announced her candidacy on Saturday and said she will start to gather the 1,000 signatures required to run for Congress as an independent, the Bismarck Tribune reported. She said she timed her announcement to coincide with the 57th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

If elected, she would be the first woman to represent North Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I am so proud to be a North Dakotan,” Mund said in a statement. “It would be an honor and a privilege to represent the people of our state in Congress. I am ready to get to work and look forward to putting North Dakotans first.”

Her announcement has the potential to upend what was widely expected to be a no-contest race for Armstrong, who will face Democrat Mark Haugen in November. North Dakota is a solid red state, and Armstrong won his first re-election bid with 70% of the vote in 2020.

While Armstrong will still be heavily favored headed into November, Mund's candidacy would introduce an element of unpredictability into the race as she is a political neophyte whose positions are unclear.

While Mund has spoken publicly about her political aspirations as recently as 2018, when she stated her desire to be the first female governor of North Dakota, she has never identified with a political party.

"I don't really identify as a Democrat or Republican, but rather just as an American. I'm a person, not a party," Mund was quoted as saying in 2017, according to opinion columnist Mike McFeely.

However, Mund drew headlines in 2017 for criticizing the Trump administration's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord.

“I do believe it’s a bad decision,” Mund said during the Miss America competition. “Once we reject that, we take ourselves out of the negotiation table, and that’s something that we really need to keep in mind. There is evidence that climate change is existing, so whether you believe it or not, we need to be at that table, and I just think it’s a bad decision on behalf of the United States.”

She also made Facebook posts supporting Black Lives Matter and called the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "one of my biggest inspirations" in a Sept. 18, 2020, post mourning Ginsburg's death.

Mund, who holds a Cum Laude degree from Harvard Law school, also gained attention in 2018 for criticizing the Miss America organization. She claimed that pageant leaders, including former Fox News host and Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson, had "systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America." The head of the organization's board later resigned.

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