Patrick Anderson Journal Staff Writer patrickanderso_

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — At a kickoff rally for his upstart campaign, Matt Brown urged about 90 supporters to help him form a populist roadblock to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s path to a second term.

Taking to the stump Monday night, for the first time in more than a decade, the former secretary of state appealed to those who backed Bernie Sanders two years ago and invoked the civil-rights movement in trying to build interest in his political comeback.

“When you are up against a system that is wrong and hurting people, but seems to have all the power, the first thing you need to do is get in the way,” Brown said, paraphrasing civil-rights leaders including U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

The system, as Brown sees it, is a political structure designed to “enrich large corporations, large banks and the very wealthiest at the top at the expense of the rest of us.”

“The current governor has defined the job of governor as selling the state to businesses to get them to come here,” Brown said. “That is not how I define the job of governor. I define the job of governor as looking out for the people of the state.”

Whether his populist platform can help Brown, whose last campaign was a failed 2006 run for U.S. Senate, generate enough interest to form a credible Democratic primary challenge to Raimondo is unclear.

State Sen. Jeanine Calkin, a Warwick Democrat who worked on Sanders’ Rhode Island campaign, was the only elected official at the rally, and union officials stayed away.

Raimondo has so far effectively ignored Brown.

Since first exploring a run for governor in early March, Brown has drawn new policy distinctions with Raimondo including:

– Legalizing recreational marijuana

– Raising the upper income tax

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