In an open letter published this week, 78 of the Madison’s area’s most prominent people of color endorsed Nada Elmikashfi to succeed Fred Risser in the State Senate’s 26th District.
“We support Nada Elmikashfi because she is part of our community and she is willing to be accountable to our community,” the letter reads in part. “This moment is about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) representing ourselves instead of having people with different socioeconomic, political status speaking ‘on our behalf.’ This moment is about choosing candidates with critical understanding of racism and what is truly means to be anti-racist.”
The signatories include elected officials like Madison Alder Shiva Bidar, Fitchburg Alder Joe Maldonado and Madison school board member Ananda Mirilli; community leaders like Brandi Grayson, Sabrina Madison, Maia Pearson, Juan Jose Lopez and April Kigeya; business community leaders like Eugenia Podesta, Cedric Johnson and Mariam Maldonado; and many others.
The letter says it is a direct response to the Wisconsin State Journal’s endorsement of former State Rep. Kelda Roys, which said Roys has the “trust” of communities of color. The newspaper noted that Wisconsin’s only two Black state senators, Lena Taylor and LaTonya Johnson, have endorsed Roys, as has Rep. Sheila Stubbs, the first Black lawmaker to represent Madison in the state legislature. Ald. Sheri Carter, the city’s first Black female City Council president, also endorsed Roys.
“We speak for ourselves and we are the best judge of what is in our own best interest,” the letter says. “We invite (Elmikashfi) into our homes, we invite her into our political spaces, and we know that with Nada we have a seat in the Capitol.”
Elmikashfi declined to seek the endorsement of the Wisconsin State Journal, citing “racists caricatures, a lack of diversity within your organisation, and articles that miss the mark on racial justice.”
My letter to the @WiStateJournal: 1/4
Hello Scott Milfred,
Thank you for offering the opportunity to interview for the WSJ’s endorsement. While I acknowledge the WSJ’s influence, as a long time reader, I do not think the editorial direction of the newspaper reflects a…
— Nada Elmikashfi for WI Senate (@nada4wisconsin) July 31, 2020
Elmikashfi has also gotten endorsements from a number of organizations, Madison Teachers Inc, American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin, the UW-Madison Teaching Assistants Association, Planned Parenthood Action, Voces de la Frontera, People for Bernie and others.
The signatories of the letter chose endorsed Elmikashfi over several other candidates of color in the most diverse Madison-area primary election field in memory. Seven candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination for the seat to succeed Risser, who announced his retirement earlier this year. In addition to Elmikashfi and Roys, candidates include former alder Brian Benford, UW grad Aisha Moe, former field organizer and entrepreneur Amani Latimer Burris, former Lt. Gov. candidate William Davis and Wisconsin Environmental Initiative executive director John Imes.
The primary election is Tuesday. There is no Republican on the ballot, so the winner of the Democratic primary will assume the seat.