WALLA WALLA — When Evan Hecht bought a plane ticket to Boston to support the Republican Massachusetts senatorial candidate Scott Brown, never did he dream he would end up on national television.
Hecht, 61, is the owner of a flood insurance agency with his wife, Tiara. The couple moved to Walla Walla about a year and a half ago.
A political independent with Republican leanings, Hecht had an interest in politics, but no history of political activity.
That all changed on Jan. 16, the morning Hecht left for Boston to campaign for Brown.
Hecht and his wife watch the news daily.
Hecht had become frustrated with the Democratic majority in the Senate, particularly by the "Cornhusker Kickback" — a deal that permanently exempts Nebraska from the costs of Medicaid expansion included in the health-reform package.
As Jan. 19, the day of the special election to fill the seat that was held by the late Edward Kennedy, approached, polls began to show that Brown wasn’t too far behind the Democrat Martha Coakley.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in Massachusetts three to one.
Hecht decided he would go to Boston and do whatever he could to help Brown.
"I said, ‘Wow, the guy’s got a chance.’ And you know, just something snapped," Hecht said.
He flew out of Walla Walla with no expectations and no plan but with a desire to get his voice heard.
On the plane, Hecht took out his laptop and began writing what he called "a letter to myself."
The letter vamps on the theme "I have never felt threatened by our federal government, never until now," and reminds the reader of the elementary school lesson that George Washington never told a lie.
Hecht wrote, "I want to do whatever I can to make certain that we do not have one political party that has the number of senators necessary to abuse their power."
Hecht shared his letter with his wife and friends and found the unanimous response was "Wow."
"There’s some magic when you write something and you’re not a writer and people read it and they go ‘Wow,’" Hecht said.
Hecht posted his letter on his Facebook page, and in two days saw his number of friends shoot up from 20 to 152.
When he arrived in Boston, Hecht contacted Brown’s campaign headquarters. For the next three days, he was put to work making phone calls and attending rallies.
At one rally, he ended up standing next to a reporter from the Boston Herald. When she asked what brought him all the way from Walla Walla, he handed her a copy of his letter.
He saw excerpts on the Herald’s Web site just hours later.
At the rally Hecht was also interviewed for ABC News and appeared in a segment, standing next to another Brown supporter from Wisconsin, in which he said, "Scott Brown has the opportunity to restore a balance of power in the United States Senate and that’s important to Walla Walla, Washington. It’s important to Wisconsin. It’s important to Masschusetts. It’s important to the entire United States of America."
Hecht chalks his good fortune to "a pretty big coincidence," but Tiara put it differently: "Evan has mastered the art of commanding attention."
Hecht’s experience and Brown’s victory have left Hecht inspired in a way he never previously imagined.
"I have never felt more patriotic," he said.
He now feels empowered and wants to share the feeling with his fellow Walla Walla residents.
"I want everybody in Walla Walla to know how empowered they really are," Hecht said.
Hecht’s plan is to use his writing skills to create a network where he can share his ideas and mobilize people. He has his eyes set on next year’s senatorial election, where Majority Leader Harry Reid will be up for re-election in Nevada.
Ultimately, Hecht’s lesson is one for the politically pessimistic.
"Evan Hecht learned that Evan Hecht can make a difference," he said.
Iris Alden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.