Kelda Roys tells Moneyish about her viral campaign ad and how she’d govern after Scott Walker in the age of Donald Trump
Kelda Roys is ready for the battle of her political career.
A candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of Wisconsin, the former State Assemblywoman came to national attention this week after releasing a now-viral campaign ad in which she briefly breastfeeds her five-month-old daughter. As of Wednesday, the video had been viewed 100,000 times on YouTube.
Breastfeeding is showing up in a number of viral advertisements right now, with the likes of Gap and Yoplait releasing ads in recent months featuring breastfeeding moms. But it’s the first time a candidate has been seen breastfeeding in a campaign ad. So why did Roys decide to include the clip?
“When the rough cut of the video came back and it had that portion in it, we basically made a decision that we were going to keep it in,” Roys told Moneyish. “This is a very normal, routine, basic part of life… no cause to be ashamed. Ultimately, I took a leap of faith that people would respond to me being a human being, and not being too scripted.”
If elected, Roys would become the Badger State’s first female governor. To make that happen, she’ll have to clinch the Democratic nomination in a crowded field of more than a dozen opponents, and ultimately face off against a Republican rival — likely incumbent Gov. Scott Walker — this November.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Roys holds a JD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and served in the State Assembly from 2009 to 2013. She currently owns OpenHouse, a digital real estate startup she founded. Her four employees are running the firm while she focuses on her gubernatorial ambitions.
Among her legislative victories include a law banning Bisphenol A, a chemical commonly found in plastics, from sippy cups and baby bottles sold in Wisconsin. The chemical has been linked to cancer, and brain development and behavioral problems.
Roys has been a vociferous critic of her likely Republican opponent. Walker, who has led the state since 2011, is known for his political battles with labor unions. In 2012, the onetime Presidential candidate became the first U.S. Governor to survive a recall election.
“Gov. Walker and his legislative Republicans have waged an unrelenting assault on women’s rights — everything from defunding Planned Parenthood and family planning…to mandating forced ultrasounds for women who are seeking abortion care… They’ve done so many attacks on reproductive rights,” Roys said.
Under Walker’s leadership, Wisconsin stopped funding organizations that provide abortions, including slashing $4.5 million in annual funding to Planned Parenthood in 2016. His administration also repealed a law that allowed women to sue employers for alleged pay discrimination in state court, where payouts can potentially be higher than federal court.
“We deserve a leader who is going to be focused on what the people of Wisconsin need [rather than someone] only worried about what Wisconsin can do for him, and be a stepping stone for the Presidency,” she added.
“Governor Walker continues to deliver positive results…with our state even being recognized recently as a top five state for women,” said a spokesperson for the Wisconsin GOP. “Instead of attacking the governor, Roys should stand up against the misogyny in her party, where the Democrat establishment is already putting its thumb on the scale and excluding female candidates, like Roys herself, from voter forums.”
While the Governor has a reputation as a political survivor, he faces some headwinds. According to a March poll from Marquette University’s Law School, Wisconsin voters are split 47-47 on his job performance.
One of Roys’ signature issues is improving quality of life for families in Wisconsin. “I would like to enact universal paid family leave for all workers in Wisconsin,” she said, along with subsidies for low-income families state-funded subsidies to afford childcare. Currently, there is no state-mandated paid leave in Wisconsin, but employees have the right take several weeks off — unpaid — to tend to newborns or care for a sick loved one, if they choose to.
She also would seek to ban assault weapons, implement universal background checks, and prevent people convicted of violent crimes from owning guns. After the Parkland shooting last month, Roys recalled that her 17-year-old stepdaughter came home from school and asked her how she’d address the issue in their state, should she win.
Roys is running alongside over 570 other women for Congressional or gubernatorial offices nationwide this year — a record high. “I think it’s very encouraging and exciting that so many women are stepping forward nationwide to run,” Roys said. “We really are ready for change. I also think that the #MeToo movement has energized women, and there’s a sense in which this is a moment of emergency in our country.”
If elected, a Governor Roys would have to work with a state legislature likely controlled by Republicans. She’ll likely also be a foil to President Donald Trump, the first Republican since 1984 to win Wisconsin in a presidential campaign.
“One thing I will not do is coddle Trump’s racism and misogyny the way that Walker has,” she said. The President has “shown, again and again with his false equivalence on the violence of white supremacists and peaceful protesters [to] his treatment of women, that he is totally unfit to lead, and a threat to our national security and our democracy.” (Trump denies being a racist.)
“I have no problem standing up to Trump,” she concluded. “I’ve been standing up to bullies throughout my entire career.”
This story was originally published on March 15th, 2018 and has since been updated with comment from the Wisconsin GOP.
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