Blake’s Hard Cider is facing social media calls for boycotts over the Armada-based orchard’s decision to host U.S. congressional candidate Lisa McClain’s rally “supporting President Donald Trump” and police. But the Blake family says it decided to cancel the event at Blake’s Big Apple after learning that it was being advertised as a pro-Trump rally using the family’s name.
Owners Andrew, Pete, and Paul Blake sent Eater this statement regarding the decision:
We apologize to our friends, fans and supporters for the miscommunication that occurred related to the Lisa McClain event. Blake’s initially agreed to allow Mrs. McClain to rent private space under the assumption that it was a small private gathering, but when we learned that the McClain campaign was positioning this as an event to support President Trump & using the Blake’s Family name to do so, we immediately canceled the event.
The Blake’s family has a long-standing tradition of allowing members of all political parties to rent space to hold small private events at our facilities as a gesture of public service, but the promotion and positioning of this event went beyond the scope of what we are comfortable with as a family and as a business. We hope that you can forgive us for this honest mistake, as we will continue to strive every day to be an inclusive company serving all members of our local communities.
The controversy comes in the midst of a lighting rod year in which a pandemic and civil rights uprisings against law enforcement around the country are colliding with an already polarized election year.
McClain is running as a Republican for Michigan’s 10th Congressional District seat against Democratic candidates Kimberly Bizon and Kelly Noland and Republican candidates Shane Hernandez and Doug Slocum. According to the flyer, posted to McClain’s Facebook page, the event was scheduled to take place on Friday, July 31 at Blake’s Big Apple in Armada from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The flyer stated that the rally was “hosted by” the Roncelli family, owners of construction company Roncelli, Inc and the Blake family, and would feature appearances by Trump’s senior campaign advisor Corey Lewandowski and former Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. Despite the cancelation, as of publication the event was still being advertised on McClain’s account (Update, 12:45 p.m., July 27: The advertisement has been removed from McClain’s account).
The post has received nearly 400 shares on Facebook in two days and screenshots have also begun circulating amid calls for a boycott of popular cider company. Multiple people have begun posting negative reviews to the company’s Facebook, Yelp, and Google pages.
Andrew Blake addressed the situation on Monday afternoon in a Facebook video.
A personal message from Andrew Blake.Posted by Blake Farms on Monday, July 27, 2020
However, some individuals continue to criticize Blake’s online, pointing to screenshots which appear to have been sent from Blake’s via Facebook messenger to William Paul prior to the formal statement issued on Monday. In the message, the Blake’s account writes, in part, in response to concerns about the pro-Trump event:
Lisa is a very qualified and capable person who is a Republican running for Congress whom the family has come to know and believe in. Her campaign was looking for a safe place to have an event where she could meet her supporters and communicate in person her message and her positions. In these crazy times we think that was/is the neighborly thing to do. If we can help we will. Now to discuss politics at large, we are a family just like every family in America and even within our family we have Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians and I think we even have a Socialist cousin, and that is okay. It makes our conversations around the dinner table interesting sometimes heated, but always colorful. We need more not less honesty, openness, dialogue and transparency.
The situation recalls a similar backlash faced by now-shuttered Livernois restaurant 1917 American Bistro during the 2016 election when owner John Studevent agreed to cater an event for the Michigan Republican Party featuring Donald Trump, Jr. Despite insisting he was not a Republican or a Trump supporter, the restaurant faced numerous negative online reviews.
Trump won Michigan in 2016 by a narrow margin and was considered a linchpin in his victory.
According to a recent CNN poll, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is currently leading Trump by 12 percentage points in Michigan. Meanwhile, Trump’s overall approval rating has dipped to 38 percent, per an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.
Update, July 27, 5:23 p.m.: This story has been updated to include a video from Andrew Blake.
Update, July 28, 10:32 a.m.: This story has been updated with screenshots and background on Blake’s alleged statements prior to a formal statement being released.
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