Why One of Planned Parenthood’s Latest Endorsement Is a Surprise
Nada Elmikashfi is one of seven candidates running for Senate District 26. (Photo provided)

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin endorses newcomer Nada Elmikashfi for Sen. Fred Risser’s seat. 

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin released its endorsements for candidates running in the Aug. 11 primary Tuesday, with one endorsement giving the edge to a political newcomer over the former executive director of a statewide pro-choice organization.

In a primary race between seven Democrats looking to fill a seat held for decades by the country’s longest-serving lawmaker, Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, Planned Parenthood is endorsing Nada Elmikashfi. If elected, Elmikashfi will be the first immigrant, Black Muslim woman to serve in the Wisconsin Legislature.

“I almost passed out when they called and told me,” Elmikashfi told UpNorthNews Thursday. “I almost couldn’t handle the news. I was jumping up and down.”

Elmikashfi said Planned Parenthood has been an important part of her life and the lives of members of her community, family, and friends. 

The endorsement is significant because of the other candidates in the race, namely Kelda Roys. Roys was the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin from 2004 to 2008 and a member of the Assembly from 2009 to 2013. 

“Kelda is the clear choice for voters who care about abortion rights and reproductive justice. That’s why every single sitting legislator who’s endorsed in this race is backing Kelda, including pro-choice leaders like Rep. Lisa Subeck, Rep. Shelia Stubbs, Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, Rep. Chris Sinicki, and Sen. Lena Taylor,” said Roys’ campaign spokeswoman, Grace Lacke. “She’s a progressive changemaker who gets it done.” 

Mike Murray, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said endorsements were made based on whether a candidate shares the same values and priorities as the organization, has put thought and effort into running a serious and successful campaign, and whether or not an endorsement from Planned Parenthood would make a difference in that candidate’s race in some “tangible way.”

Murray said Elmikashfi has run a strong grassroots campaign and has put “a lot of thoughtful work to become a strong candidate” in this race.

“When making this endorsement we wanted to focus on changing the conversation,” Murray said. “To do that, we have to think about who is represented in our state government and who historically in our state have not been elected to office.”

Lacke said during Roys’ tenure with NARAL she helped reduce racial disparities in infant mortality and during her time in the Legislature helped pass the first pro-choice legislation in a genation through an anti-choice Assembly. 

Due to this and other efforts while in office, Roys has been endorsed by Women Lead, a Wisconsin-based group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic Women, and #VoteProchoice, a national reproductive rights political organization. 

Wisconsin has the highest Black infant mortality rate in the country. Disparities in income gaps, incarceration rates, home ownership, and access to health insurance have prompted state leaders, including Planned Parenthood, to see racism as a public health crisis. Murray said it is important to bring voices like Elmikashfi’s into the political realm to address these disparities. 

“Speaking to the larger, broader movement we are in right now, young women of color have been left out of the discussion,” Murray said. “Our political system in Wisconsin has been harmful to Black, Indigenous, people of color. She speaks very eloquently to the movement we are living in.”

In a candidate interview with UpNorthNews, Elmikashfi said addressing health disparities will require “addressing the foundations of white supremacy in our public health system” and “passing universal health care for all.”

“To see Planned Parenthood really get behind this campaign and connect their values to ours is taking politics beyond the status quo,” Elmikashfi. “It is incredibly moving to me that they saw and understood what we are trying to accomplish in this campaign. It is time to see policy through the lens of equity, the lens of equality.”

Planned Parenthood did not endorse a candidate in every race. Here is a list of legislative candidates competing in the Aug. 11 primary who received endorsements: 

  • Sen. LaTonya Johnson, Democrat, Senate District 6
  • Jonathon Hansen, Democrat, Senate District 30
  • Brad Pfaff, Democrat, Senate District 32
  • JoAnna Bautch, Democrat, Assembly District 8
  • Rep. Marisabel Cabrera, Democrat, Assembly District 9
  • Tomika Vukovic, Democrat, Assembly District 11
  • Rep. Lisa Subeck, Democrat, Assembly District 78
  • Rep. Sondy Pope, Democrat, Assembly District 80
  • Kristin Lyerly, Democrat, Assembly District 88
  • Kristina Shelton, Democrat, Assembly District 90