For four years, from 2009-2013, Kelda Roys was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, serving in a variety of leadership roles. She only left that otherwise-safe seat to run for Congress, in 2012, but lost her primary to the eventual winner (and current member of the Congressional Freethought Caucus) Mark Pocan.
Roys took a short break from politics after that and started her own business, but she returned to politics in 2018 to run for governor and unseat Republican Scott Walker.
She even made national headlines for a viral campaign ad in which she breastfed her baby daughter while talking about policy.
In the Democratic primary, however, she took third place to Tony Evers (who eventually became governor in a very close race).
Did she stop there? Hell no. State Senator Fred Risser — who had served in the legislature for an astonishing 64 years — recently announced his retirement from his reliably blue district. So Roys decided to run for it.
Last night, in a seven-person Democratic primary for State Senate District 26 — which includes part of Madison — Roys ran away with the victory. Not only did she win the race, but because of her predecessor’s dominance, there isn’t even a Republican opponent. Her election this November should be a formality.
Oh, and by the way, she’s also an atheist.
According to the Freethought Equality Fund PAC, which endorsed her candidacy, she’s fully embracing her liberal ideals.
Kelda Roys is running for the Wisconsin State Senate in District 26. Roys is a former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, and board member of the ACLU of Wisconsin. She is a strong supporter of church-state separation. She says, “My experience as an atheist, an attorney, and a staunch ACLU supporter means I respect religion’s role in private life, but reject its role in public policy or government. Religious views should not make law.” Her other policy priorities include healthcare for all, paid leave, student debt relief, fair wages, quality public education, racial and gender equality, and combating climate change. Roys is an atheist and secular humanist.
Some politicians try to be subtle about their liberal leanings. Roys is shouting them from the rooftops and It. Is. Glorious.
Last night, Roys even thanked her supporters in a video that (of course) featured her youngest daughter crawling around as little kids do. Just adorable.
You can donate to Roy’s campaign here. While she may not need the help herself, she plans to help other Democrats get elected this November. Remember: This is a state that is heavily gerrymandered, so the legislature is controlled by Republicans.
Any dent she can make into their majority, especially in the State Assembly, is incredibly important.
On a side note, I’ve been keeping track of all the openly non-religious candidates in state and federal elections, and you can see my updated list here.