MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Kelda Helen Roys, who worked in the private sector the past five years after a failed run for Congress following two terms in the state Assembly, is joining the crowded Democratic field for Wisconsin governor.

Roys told The Associated Press on Thursday that she's hiring staff and will formally launch her campaign early next year.

"At this point nobody is really paying attention to the governor's race except those of us who eat, breathe and sleep politics," she said.

Roys said her message in the governor's race will be that Republican Gov. Scott Walker must be replaced to make Wisconsin "a place of fairness and opportunity again."

"I can articulate a positive vision for the future of our state," she said.

Roys joins a crowded Democratic field seeking to run against Walker in 11 months. Others already in the race include state Superintendent Tony Evers; state firefighter union leader Mahlon Mitchell; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, of Alma; state Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire; Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik; and longtime political activist Mike McCabe, of Madison.

Roys, like other Democrats, said the big field was a good thing.

"It's great that we have so many candidates that are interested in running and willing to give up their time to campaign," Roys said. "It shows the energy on the Democratic side in this state. I think my background as a state legislator as well as a small business owner gives me a lot of insight into what policies are needed to grow our economy and make sure that everyone has the chance to succeed."

Roys, 38, lives in Madison and is the owner/operator of the real estate brokerage firm OpenHomes. Roys served in the state Assembly from 2009 until 2013. She opted against seeking re-election in 2012 to instead run for Congress. She lost to Mark Pocan in the primary 72 percent to 22 percent.

Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman branded Roys as "too liberal even for Madison" and questioned how she could run statewide after having lost by 50 points in the 2nd Congressional District. The reliably Democratic district includes Madison and the south-central part of the state.

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