Crossing the aisle — Democrat, Conservative bigs join forces for hurricane fund-raiser • Brooklyn Paper

Crossing the aisle — Democrat, Conservative bigs join forces for hurricane fund-raiser

Toast-partisan: Bay Ridge Democrats president Justin Brannan and Conservative Club leader Liam McCabe raise a glass to helping Hurricane Sandy victims at the fund-raiser they held last Wednesday night.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Two Bay Ridge political leaders on opposite sides of the aisle set aside their differences for a good cause on Nov. 21 — aiding Hurricane Sandy victims.

Justin Brannan and Liam McCabe grew up as neighbors, but found themselves pulled toward different ends of the political spectrum as adults: Brannan became president of the Bay Ridge Democrats and an aide to Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and McCabe went on to head up the Eugene Walsh Conservative Club, and is now a staffer to Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge). But the two men forgot politics for one night to raise $1,000 at the Corner Kitchen and Bar at 67th Street and Fifth Avenue in an event dubbed, “Brooklyn South United.”

“There is no liberal or conservative way to recover after a storm like Hurricane Sandy,” said Brannan. “This is a time for us all to come together as one: as New Yorkers, as Americans.”

McCabe said the idea for the event came about as the two talked about all the measures being taken to get relief to areas left devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

“If it was really off the cuff. We were doing everything under the auspices of our positions in government, and we said, ‘why don’t we do something together on our own?’ ” said McCabe, who added that the owner of the Corner Kitchen and Bar jumped at the chance to be part of the event. “It’s just two guys who grew up on the same streets of Brooklyn, who ended up on different sides of the aisle, but decided to do something for their fellow citizens.”

Some 40 people — many of them members of Brannan’s and McCabe’s organizations — swung by and contributed $25 to the cause, money that will go straight to Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. The donors then got to enjoy unlimited drinks and food from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

It wasn’t the first time that borough Democrats and Republicans have worked together in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.

When the storm flooded out Democratic Councilman Michael Nelson’s office in Sheepshead Bay, Republican state Sen. David Storobin offered him the use of his office on Avenue U. The two worked side by side until Nelson’s office reopened last week.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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