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Back to his grassroots! Bernie Sanders to open campaign office in native Flatbush - Brooklyn Paper

Back to his grassroots! Bernie Sanders to open campaign office in native Flatbush

Looking sharp: You have to go pretty far back to find a picture of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders without his signature unkempt mop of silver hair. Here’s Sanders in his James Madison High School yearbook portrait circa 1959.
James Madison High School

Flatbush will soon feel the Bern.

Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign is opening its second Brooklyn office — this time a stone’s throw from the Midwood-native-turned-Vermont-senator’s childhood home, organizers announced just 12 days before the New York primary. The Madison High School-educated presidential hopeful is opening the operation at the corner of Flatbush and Bedford avenues to reach communities other candidates have overlooked, a representative said. But the politician who previously occupied the building panned Sanders as a Bernie-come-lately — because opponent Hillary Clinton headquartered her entire operation in Brooklyn Heights last year.

“It’s great that he has an office here, but people should remember that Clinton has her entire national office [in Brooklyn],” said state Sen. Kevin Parker (D–Flatbush), who previously kept a district office where Sanders’s now is setting up shop. “Welcome to the party, Bernie.”

The new office will be a base for phone-bankers and door-knockers hoping to woo a neighborhood organizers say hasn’t gotten enough love from candidates.

“The campaign is serious about reaching out to voters across the state and across the city — and I think the Senator demonstrated that by holding a rally in the South Bronx — to neighborhoods that are not usually visited by politicians,” said spokesman and Crown Heights resident Karthik Ganapathy. “So I think it’s partly to make sure we’re reaching out to everyone.”

Critics have slammed Sanders for a poor record on issues affecting people of color. And the senator from Vermont — the second-whitest state in the Union — has been courting black leaders in an apparent attempt to improve his brand with minority voters.

Sanders opened his first Brooklyn office in Gowanus — where whites comprise 62.6 percent of the population in census tracts within a half-mile of his outpost — on March 26. Conversely, whites only account for 11.5 percent of the population within a half-mile of Sanders’ Flatbush office, census data shows.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D–Flatbush) — whose own office is less than a mile away — took the stage with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Crown Heights on April 5.

Organizers are still negotiating a lease and haven’t set a date to Sanders’s new office, Ganapathy said.

Sanders and Clinton will take the stage at the Navy Yard in Fort Greene on April 14 for a final debate before the New York primary on April 19.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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