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Presidential campaigns set up shop in Sewickley

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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

Not only does an empty chair separate Democrats from Republicans, in Sewickley, an empty storefront does, too.

“It's ironic that the two offices are in the same building,” said Maria Swanson, an organizer of the Republican office, which sits one vacant storefront away from the Quaker Valley Democratic Organization office. “It's the same landlord.”

Large banners and hand-painted signs decorate the front window of the grassroots Republican office, located in space formerly occupied by the iconic Monday's Child store and later Pink & Blue, which closed earlier this year.

Quaker Valley Democratic Organization volunteers have covered windows and walls with fliers and posters for candidates they're supporting at a storefront at 505 Broad St., across from Citizens Bank.

Representatives from each office say having a walk-up spot for the presidential campaign is important – not to mention unusual.

“In the first three days, we had over 200 people,” Swanson said of the Republican office, which opened Oct. 1.

For the Democrats, more than 100 people visited during a Friday night event in late September, volunteer Otis McAliley said.

“I'm part of this because I believe in President Obama,” McAliley said.

“America is for everyone, but sometimes it doesn't appear that way.”

While she's not supporting the same candidate, Swanson, like McAliley, is passionate about her reason for helping to open the Republican storefront.

“The primary force was the presidential election,” she said.

“It is the most urgent election of our adult years.

“The country is on a dangerous course that will alter what I believe America was founded on.”

Phone calls and canvassing efforts are based out of the two offices, and the Republicans are planning debate-watching parties, including one for tonight's debate between the vice presidential candidates.

The Democrats are planning to watch the debates, but “in the comfort of people's homes.”

Prospective volunteers and those seeking signs, bumper stickers, buttons and other election campaign material wander in off the street throughout the day, organizers from each office said.

“One lady up in (Sewickley) Heights came in one morning to get a sign and she had to come back in the afternoon because somebody took her sign,” McAliley said. “She said, ‘Who would take a sign in Sewickley Heights?'”

And while the relationship between Democrats and Republicans seems fierce on a national scale, McAliley said it's more civil in Sewickley.

“I take issue with some of what (the Republicans) say, (but) we're neighbors,” he said. After the campaign, we still have to live here.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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