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Kelda Roys speaks during a public forum for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Madison Sunday.


In her first video of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, former state Rep. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, features her family prominently and discusses legislation she worked on to ban a toxic chemical in children's cups and bottles.

She also breastfeeds her four-month-old daughter, in a move she says was unplanned.

"I mean, no, other than that I’m a normal person. I’m a mom, I’m a businesswoman, I’m an advocate," Roys said when asked if she intended for the breastfeeding moment to be the takeaway from the video. "Like most working parents around the state, I juggle a lot of things and responsibilities, and I wear a lot of hats. When we were shooting the video, my family was obviously there, and when the baby needs to eat I just feed her."

Roys, 38, has two daughters and two stepdaughters with her husband, Dan Reed. 

The CEO and founder of real estate tech company OpenHomes, Roys represented Madison in the state Assembly for four years after winning a six-way primary in 2008. She left her seat in 2012 to mount an ill-fated Congressional campaign, eventually losing to fellow Madison Democrat Mark Pocan.

She launched her campaign earlier this year, joining a crowded Democratic field. According to a Marquette University Law School poll released Monday, voters know very little about most Democratic candidates. Roys is no exception, with 92 percent of voters who said they didn't know enough about her to have an opinion.

Roys said the ad strives to show that she has "a positive vision for Wisconsin, where the health and well-being of children is put before special interests and big corporations."

It features shots of her talking on her own and laughing with her family as she describes her efforts to ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups during her time in the state Legislature. 

About one minute in, her husband hands their crying daughter to her. She pauses to start breastfeeding and continues with her story.

In a press release, Roys' campaign referred to the video as "groundbreaking."

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Roys said when she saw the video of her breastfeeding, she was "fine with leaving it in" because it was an authentic description of who she is.

As she campaigns throughout the state, Roys said, supporters have been receptive and excited to see her bringing her children to some events. 

If anyone is uncomfortable watching her breastfeed, Roys said, "don't watch the video."

"This is one way that babies get fed. It’s just a part of life. It’s a part of nature," Roys said. "People might say that a mom of young kids can’t be governor or shouldn’t be running for governor, but I also think that in 2018 women are not going to be told to sit down and shut up anymore. We have every right to have a seat at the table and run for office, even when we have young kids, just like men always have."

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.