Matt Brown doesn’t mince words.
(SEE THE VIDEO BELOW)
That’s a good thing, because he doesn’t dodge issues either. It means his entrance into the race has started conversations that wouldn’t be taking place if he hadn’t entered the race.
The Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, who is challenging incumbent Gina Raimondo, stopped by the Rhode Island Executives Association on Tuesday afternoon. There, he talked about why he believes he should be the state’s next Governor.
Brown sees the state, and greater society as a whole, as having gone off track. He’s not afraid to talk about massive problems–like health care, affordable housing, or the need for green energy. He suggests progressive solutions to address them.
Brown Says We’re Off Track, But Offers Solutions
“The world has gotten off track. We need to look at where we are and be honest about it,” Brown said.
For instance, he points out that, on average, the cost of health care has increased by 5 percent per year over the last 40 years. To fix the problem, Brown says we need a single payer system for health care. (It would save money by cutting down on emergency room visits by the uninsured. It would also lower prices due to the purchasing power of the massive system, he argues.)
Brown bemoans the income inequality that he sees as plaguing America.
“Twenty-five individuals (in America) have as much wealth as the bottom $152 million people,” Brown said at the beginning of his talk.
On the issue of affordable housing, Brown points out that someone who earns $30,000 per year cannot afford to buy a house anywhere in Rhode Island. That’s a problem, he argues, because just a generation prior, lower income earners could easily afford to buy new homes.
To combat that problem, the state needs to see more new homes built. Increased supply would put a downward pressure on prices, he suggested.
“We cannot just get used to things going badly, or in the wrong direction. We need to address these problems,” Brown tells the audience of roughly 20 Rhode Island executives.
Brown also stated his harsh opposition to the Burrillville Power Plant proposal. The state, he said, should instead be investing in green energy sources instead. He also faulted Raimondo for taking campaign contributions from people who work for the company that’s slated to build the plant.
On the issue of the economy, he faulted Raimondo for taking part in what he considers “corporate welfare”.
A Green Energy Advocate
“When we take taxpayer money and give it to corporations for them to come here that’s not economic development,” Brown said.
Brown cast Raimondo as someone who, when making decisions, always protects the most well-off and well-connected in society (in particular, those who give her money). When makings cuts, she focuses on society’s least well-off, he said. Brown cited her Medicaid cuts as an example.
Brown thrust himself to prominence in Rhode Island back in 2002 when he ran for Secretary of State. He took on incumbent Edward Inman. Brown ran an outsider’s campaign. But he rallied enough support–particularly from young people–to topple the entrenched incumbent in the primary. (Sound familiar?) He cruised to victory in that year’s general election.
Brown is nothing if not ambitious.
An Ambitious Undertaking
In 2006, instead of taking the easy, comfortable route to reelection, Brown decided to run for the US Senate seat, which was held at that point by Lincoln Chafee. He was running an effective campaign for quite a while. Some polls, early on, showed him ahead of Sheldon Whitehouse in the Democratic Primary. Brown, however, ran out of money, and was forced to back out of the race.
He disappeared from the political scene to form a nonprofit called Global Zero, which seeks to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Now he’s running for Rhode Island’s top job, saying he wants to solve major problems. It remains to be seen whether he can muster the support to win the election, and the odds don’t appear to be in his favor–given Raimondo’s massive campaign fund. But if he overcomes them, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
(Earlier today, Republican candidate Giovanni Feroce told 630 WPRO’s Dan Yorke that he believes Brown will prevail.)
In any event, his entry into the race is a win for Rhode Islanders, since it moves the dialogue into areas and issues that wouldn’t be addressed if he didn’t run.