In 2018, Rep. Kelly Moller ran for one of the most competitive Minnesota House seats in the state. She challenged an anti-choice incumbent who had narrowly won election in 2016 by a margin of just 125 votes out of more than 22,000 cast. Rep. Moller defeated him by more than 3,000 votes — FLIPPING a seat in the Minnesota House.
Women Winning was proud to stand with Rep. Moller throughout her campaign and is thrilled with her success. During her first term in the Minnesota House, she’s demonstrated incredible leadership as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence. We sat down with Rep. Moller to learn about what inspired her to run, the importance of pro-choice women’s representation, her top priorities as a legislator, and her advice for future candidates.
Women Winning: You ran a strong campaign in a tough district and FLIPPED a seat in the Minnesota House. That’s no small feat. What motivated you to run for office?
Rep. Kelly Moller: I’m a prosecutor and I handle a lot of sexual assault cases. When the country elected a president who bragged about sexual assault, that was incredibly troubling and after the 2016 election, I became an activist. I heard from a lot of people, in different circles of my life, that I should consider running for office, but at first I didn’t take them seriously. They say it takes a woman seven “asks” before actually running for office and I don’t know if it was seven, but it was a lot! I had never thought I would run for office, but I decided to do it.
WW: We’re so glad that you did! How did you prepare to run?
Rep. Moller: Before I was even officially a candidate, I went to a Women Winning training and ended up connecting with a couple of women who ended up becoming really active volunteers on my campaign team. So, not only did I gain valuable information from the training, but met two dedicated volunteers. And now one of them is planning to run for office herself! It’s so important for women to lift each other up, and Women Winning helps us do that. In fact, Kristin Bahner and Heather Edelson, who are now my colleagues in the House, were also at the training. There were a lot of powerful women in that room!
WW: What are your top priorities now as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives?
Rep. Moller: After that Star Tribune published the Denied Justice series, we saw that there are a lot of flaws with our system when it comes to justice for survivors of assault. Not only because there are victims who don’t feel they can come forward, but for those who do — poor investigations, lack of prosecution. So I’ve really been working on sexual assault issues. I’m on the public safety committee and we’ve been focused on improving legislation around gender based violence.
WW: That work is so critical and it’s so powerful to see women in the legislature leading the charge. Why is it important for to have women at the tables of power?
Rep. Moller: Have you seen that jarring image – of the group of men sitting around the table with President Trump talking about women’s reproductive rights? There wasn’t a single woman in the room making that decision. We need to have pro-choice women at the table to make decisions about our own bodies.
WW: What advice would you give to young women considering a run for public office or who want to get involved in politics?
Rep. Moller: Eliminate your self doubt. Because we, especially women, have a lot of doubt. Also, it’s easy to say “now’s not the right time, there might be another time that’s better.” Honestly, there’s never going to be a perfect time in your life. So if you’re thinking about running for office, know that now is the right time and get rid of any doubt that you might have about yourself.
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