Democrat Amy Biviano, 37 -- a Yale University graduate who was featured in the "Women of the Ivy League" issue in 1995 -- is now a business owner, accountant and Sunday school teacher with a family values platform in Washington's 4th legislative district race.
She called the photo shoot a confidence builder for her at the time.
"While I would not do the same thing now, this is not something that I made any attempt to hide," she said. "It has no bearing on issues."
The Western Journalism Center, a conservative website, found the photograph last week, NBC News reported.
Biviano's opponent, Republican incumbent Pat Shea, said his staff knew about the picture months ago and declined to use it as a campaign issue. In a statement, Shea said he was "saddened by the release by a national media outlet of my opponent's involvement in pornography."