Meet Needham Write-In Candidate Brett Rhyne
Needham man hopes voters will write his name in for the 2013 special election.
He has worked as a journalist and a professor, and hopes that at the upcoming special election, Massachusetts voters will write his name in on the ballot for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Rhyne stopped teaching at Salem State in 2009, and has been unemployed or under-employed since then.
"The economy sucks. There is no job security. This economy is broken, and it doesn't have to be." Rhyne told Patch, "We are turning into a well-educated third-world country. And that's ridiculous. It's outrageous."
Patch recently sat down with Rhyne for his first campaign interview to learn more about the write-in campaign, and how he thinks he will fare in the April 30 primary, and beyond.
"I think I'll beat [Stephen] Lynch," Rhyne says. "I think I'll draw a good number of supporters away from [Ed] Markey. I think there are a lot of disillusioned liberals out there."
He feels the special election is an excellent time to run a campaign, because voters going to the polls are more likely to be motivated. In that sense, he says, being a write-in candidate is an advantage.
"Everybody who walks into the booth on election day knows who they're going to vote for. So, this is an excellent time to be a write-in candidate," he explained.
Even if he is not on the ballot after the primary, as a write-in candidate, voters will be able to vote for Rhyne in the general election. Regardless of the outcome, he said he plans to run in the November 2014 race as well.
Rhyne snaps a picture on his iPhone and checks in on FourSquare, adding with his hashtag #WheresMyBrett. After a few minutes, a map on his homepage shows a pin marking the Starbucks cafe where we're speaking.
The Rhyne campaign also website includes a widget which allows possible supporters to schedule meetings with him--by phone or in person.
"I'm not a hermit. I'm happy to talk to anyone," he says. "The technology is available for us to be accountable to the public, and for the public to have access to us, directly."
Rhyne is not accepting campaign donations from residents or organizations, instead encouraging supporters to write his name on their ballot, and share the link for his website, Rhyne4Senate.com.
Said Rhyne, "I don't take money--from anybody! I don't want money. I want votes. I want trust."
His Facebook group has over 1,000 members--some of whom are not Massachusetts residents. He hopes the reach of this group, which he says is international, can sway local voters on their way to the polls.
"The reach is unimaginable. In a way, this is an experiment: I'm curious to see whether that reach can be converted into votes. Whether it really can make a difference in the electorate," he says.
See Rhyne's Letter to the Editor introducing his campaign earlier this week.
In addition to access to and transparency of public servants, Rhyne feels there are a number of important issues not being raised in Washington. Issues he says have been around for decades.
His top issue, he says is the "epidemic of violences," of which the Newtown shooting and violent films are evidence. In addition to stricter movie rating guidelines, he also wants to repeal the second amendment.
"I think it's a position that needs to be voiced. Just to widen the debate, put it out there." Rhyne added, "It's not like we haven't abolished popular privileges before--we abolished slavery. People don't seem to be too upset about it now."
On the environment, Rhyne is concerned about more than just global warming. He is also concerned about air and water pollution and toxic waste. During his time in Medfield, he covered the clean-up of Medfield State Hospital.
Getting to the bottom of drug and alcohol addiction could improve a number of economic and social factors, he believes. A member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Rhyne adds that the programs promote individual responsibility. Addiction is just one of the public health crises he intends to investigate. He lists autism, drug and alcohol addiction, food safety, GMOs, HIV/AIDS and potential viral pandemics among his other causes.
Rhyne is also in favor of redistributing wealth and ensuring universal access to health care and higher education. He also wants to work to further the rights of groups like children, women, animals, workers, the homeless and the incarcerated--groups he says are underrepresented.