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Franklin Avenue Merchants Rally Behind Obama Re-election Campaign

By Sonja Sharp | October 11, 2012 12:33pm

CROWN HEIGHTS — Brooklyn may be blue at the ballot box, but that hasn't stopped Franklin Avenue merchants from injecting a little green into President Barack Obama's re-election campaign this fall. 

Twenty local merchants have joined a local grassroots effort to raise money for the Obama Victory Fund in the final run-up to Election Day. On Thursday, local watering-hole 739 Franklin will become the third business on a single block of Crown Heights to throw its weight — and its well drinks — behind the president's re-election campaign.

"I’m just really struck by the overall response of individuals and by merchants to give to the Obama campaign, " said Raquel Wexler, who has spearheaded a series of hyper-local events around the upcoming election. "Along Franklin Avenue there’s a lot of love for Obama."

That love has already translated into quite a bit of cash.

Candy Rush hosted a kid-friendly fundraiser with Washington Avenue's BCakeNY that attracted Congressional-hopeful Hakeem Jeffries and raised $500 on for the Obama campaign Sunday. Their event came on the heels of a coffee drive by Little Zelda that raised $250 in a matter of hours.

"It’s not just a question of giving your $3, but of giving to the Obama victory fund and knowing you’re doing your part," Wexler said.

For her, the purpose is twofold: to raise money ahead of the election and to bring together like-minded locals who might not otherwise meet. The novice organizer said she was inspired to act after discovering local artists in her own backyard during the Brooklyn Museum's open studio project this September.

"I was really inspired by the GO Brooklyn exhibition — this exhibition wasn’t driven online, it really compelled you as an individual to go into artists' studios and into homes and see the artwork first hand and talk to people," Wexler said.

"It reminded me how atomized we all are. I thought that this would be one way to marry the fundraising and the community mobilization in advance of the election, but to do it at a very personal level."

VP junkies can get their Biden fix during the debate viewing party at 739 Franklin, which is offering $3 well drinks and $4 beers to drinkers who make a minimum $10 contribution. Local favorite Franklin Park has signed on to host the last presidential debate on Oct. 22, and other events are still in the works.

"This has been a good exercise of just meeting your neighbors and bringing people together in different kinds of social contexts," Wexler said. "I walk these streets every day, but this initiative brought me into new shops and places I’ve never gone before."