Veteran businesswoman and Republican activist Willa Dailey of Mankato announced her candidacy for the Minnesota Senate District 19 seat open following the retirement of Kathy Sheran.
Dailey, a self-employed auctioneer and real estate agent, co-owns and operates a North Mankato-based business with her husband, Jay Dailey. The couple lives in rural Mankato.
The decision by Dailey — announced officially at the March 1 Blue Earth County Republican caucuses and on her Facebook page the next morning — pits her against North Mankato attorney and DFLer Nick Frentz, who jumped into the race in December.
It’s a district which has long been held by DFL legislators, thanks in part to solid bases in Mankato and St. Peter.
Sheran, DFL-Mankato, was first elected to office in 2006. She earned re-election in 2010 and, more recently, in 2012 when she was unopposed.
Dailey ran for the Mankato area Minnesota House of Representatives seat in 2010, giving way eventually to the Republican-endorsed candidacy of Dave Kruse, who lost to former Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato. Dailey also briefly considered a 2012 campaign against Sheran, but decided against it.
But Dailey labels herself an activist, not a politician.
“I’m not politically ambitious,” Dailey told the St. Peter Herald Friday.
“I’m just a regular person, like many others, who think their views have been absent because of one party’s control of the district. A lot of voices think that maybe change is a good thing.”
And her legislative interests lie beyond the borders of District 19, which includes Mankato, Eagle Lake, some of rural Blue Earth County, all of Nicollet County and a bit of Le Sueur County, including Kasota.
“Things that are pertinent on a state level are important to every district,” Dailey said. “I would hope that in our district is that we’d have a balance for the smaller communities. And much of what goes on here affects my businesses, too.”
Smaller communities with limited tax base are struggling, she said.
Dailey, born and raised in the Mankato area, considers her a lifelong Republican.
Her resume includes work as the Blue Earth County coordinator for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Dailey spent 10 years in business in the Arizona and California markets before returning to the area in 1991, meeting her husband and settling back in the area.