Brandon Thomas is currently a candidate for the Tennessee State House of Representatives’ 49th District. Thomas is also a member of the LGBT community, and has been an advocate for it since his time as a student at Smyrna High School. During his college career, he worked to make Middle Tennessee State University’s campus a more welcoming place for LGBT students, and he hopes to do the same as a state legislator.
“I went to Smyrna High School, and I graduated from MTSU in 2012,” Thomas said when we spoke. “I'm a lifelong resident of Rutherford County, and I've been really politically active since high school, particularly on LGBT issues. I am gay, and I believe we as a country need to come forward and really realize that we have gay folks in all our communities. We need to stop passing bad legislation.”
Thomas has been an advocate for all of his neighbors, however. “I've been a very active advocate not only for LGBT issues but for every issue where people need a voice, need an ally… I'm for protecting religious freedom without fear—like supporting the mosque in Murfreesboro. I'm a really big advocate for ensuring that everyone has affordable health care.”
Thomas doesn’t feel like his district has been well represented by the incumbent, whom he believes is beholden to special interests and listens to a small group in the district. “There's a lot of diversity in our community that is not being represented,” he said. “a very select group of people have their voices heard, and I think that's atrocious.”
According to Thomas, it’s this neglect of the diverse interests of the people, as well as the unproductive legislative sessions overly focused on distracting, hot-button issues that pushed him to run. “With all that time spent passing bad legislation, we still don't have a solution to our traffic problem, for our healthcare system or our failing infrastructure, or for so many other chronic issues facing our state.”
Despite the conservative leanings of his district, Thomas thinks his message has wide appeal. “There are issues that cross party lines that people can agree on. I think a lot of people in the district want to pass Governor Haslam's Insure Tennessee, which would help 250,000 of our neighbors. I think a lot of folks understand that it's time to raise the minimum wage. We have a state where you can work over 40 hours a week and not be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment at $7.25 an hour. These are issues hit home for a lot of people regardless of party affiliation
Thomas has been going door-to-door, making calls, and attending events to make his pitch for passing Insure Tennessee, increasing public funding for schools, working on infrastructure, and dealing with traffic. “I really ask people,” he said, “whether spending all of our time and legislative attention on a hot-button issue is really making their lives better, is it putting more money in their pockets is it making their communities safer. We really need to pose that question to the voters.”
In order to succeed, however, Thomas is going to need the support of volunteers, donors, and voters, since he’ll be facing either an incumbent or a another well-funded Republican candidate in the general election. “I’ll need folks making phone calls for me,” he said. “I need people going door-to-door for me, because the challenge is that we have to just outsmart the other side’s money by just making a lot of personal, direct contact.”
The local Democratic Party is providing support for Thomas, and he hopes that his ties to MTSU will give him a pool of active volunteers for the general election, once students return for the fall. He also has a few events lined up to help gather support.
“We're going to be having a dinner July 23rd at Breaking Bread in Smyrna," Thomas said. "I’d love to organize an event, or a house party, in La Vergne. I feel like the city of La Vergne is overlooked every political season, but it has a lot to offer, a lot of opportunity and I want people there to really get to know me.”
For more information or to sign up to volunteer, visit votebrandonthomas.com or facebook.com/voteforbrandonthomas.