Mallory Hagan

Mallory Hagan speaks at the Calhoun County Democrats meeting at the Hampton Inn in Jacksonville in February. (Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star/file)

Mallory Hagan, the former Miss America who left a television news anchor job to run for Congress, won the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional District seat in Tuesday’s primary.

“Tonight — united — we begin a fight for our seat in Congress so that Alabama can become the state that we deserve.” Hagan was quoted as saying in a prepared statement sent after the results were in.

Hagan defeated Adia McClellan Winfrey, a psychologist from Talladega County, in the first Democratic primary the district has seen in more than a decade. The district, which includes Anniston, Talladega, Auburn and Opelika among other eastern Alabama locations, has been represented by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, since 2003. Rogers had no challenger in the primary and will face Hagan in the November general election.

An attempt to reach Rogers on Tuesday night was not immediately successful.

Hagan and her primary opponent ran a campaign that was largely free of acrimony. They seemed to agree on many issues, and both kept criticism of President Donald Trump – typically a topic of conversation wherever Democrats gather – to a minimum, focusing instead on issues such as health care and gun control. Each argued that her professional background made her the best choice.

Winfrey has spent much of her career doing group therapy, including sessions with incarcerated kids – work that she said would prepare her to work in a dysfunctional and divided Congress.

Hagan was well-known even before her run for office. Raised in Opelika, she moved to New York City in early adulthood and won a crown as Miss New York and then Miss America. Before announcing her run for Congress this year, Hagan was a news anchor for a Columbus, Ga., television station. Donors early on seemed to see Hagan as a frontrunner: she pulled in $132,000 in campaign funds, compared to Winfrey’s $12,000.

Attempts to reach Winfrey on Tuesday night were unsuccessful. A campaign spokeswoman said around 10 p.m. that the candidate had already headed home. 

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.