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RI POLITICS

Matt Brown is still set on winning ‘the whole [expletive] State House’

On Rhode Island Report podcast, the Democratic candidate for governor talks about building 10,000 affordable homes, taxing the rich, and his Beatles theme song

Former Rhode Island secretary of state Matt Brown, a Democratic candidate for governor, speaks to Globe reporter Edward Fitzpatrick during the Rhode Island Report podcast.Carlos Muñoz

PROVIDENCE — In September, when Matt Brown and Senator Cynthia Mendes announced they were running for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, they said they were pursuing a progressive “governing majority” in the General Assembly and governor’s office. “We’re gonna win the whole [expletive] State House,” Brown said in a video.

The two said they were running running alongside a slate of up to 50 other Rhode Island Political Cooperative candidates. So, eight months later, how is that bold prediction going?

“We’re just getting started here,” Brown said on the Rhode Island Report podcast. While the Democratic former secretary of state is trailing in fundraising and polling, he said, “The election season is just beginning. We’re seeing just huge excitement all across the state.”

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Brown noted the group announced five new General Assembly candidates on May 5; as of May 11, the Political Cooperative’s website listed 22 candidates for various offices, plus one whose office was “to be announced.”

“We’ll be making more announcements soon,” Brown said. “And these are people who have been doing the work of fighting for their communities for a long, long time.”

In December, Brown and Mendes slept in tents outside the State House for 16 days, pressing state officials to do more to address the homelessness crisis. While opponents have called the encampment “performative,” Brown said that as governor he would pursue plans to build 10,000 “truly affordable homes that are green so that we also address the climate crisis.”

Brown also called for capping rent increases at 4 percent a year. “The annual increases in rent are just not livable for people,” he said. “Rents went up 24 percent during the pandemic, and this government has done nothing about it.”

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Brown advocated for raising the top marginal income tax rate on Rhode Island’s richest residents, and he rejected Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio’s contention that such an increase would drive wealthy people out of the state.

“That’s false,” he said. “That’s a lie that people in power who are beholden to the wealthy have told here for years. There’s a lot of data from states across the country that that’s not true. In fact, it’s older, wealthier people who are least likely to move because they’ve been in a place for a long time. They’ve got family here.”

Brown, who is a huge Beatles fan, also named the Fab Four song that best describes his candidacy.

Hear more by downloading the latest episode of Rhode Island Report, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts, and other podcasting platforms, or listen in the player above.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.