Jimmy McMillan, the hirsute, eccentric New Yorker who came to national prominence as a long-shot candidate for governor in 2010 by declaring the “rent is too damn high,” announced this week that he is retiring from politics.
The 69-year-old, who founded his own Rent Is Too Damn High party, announced in a press release Tuesday that his trademark was for sale and that the voters of New York City and state were “totally brainwashed” because they failed to seek “rent reduction for the people in the cities of Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens.”
“I am walking away because I have know [sic] other choice the people have ignored my warning and my cry for help that the rent crisis was getting worse. The kind of help they cannot get from not one elected official, not the Governor neither the Mayor can give them,” the self-proclaimed “karate expert” wrote.
“Rent is too damn high is an international crisis,” he added. “There are many questions the people should ask themselves. I which [sic] them the best — I’m out.”
At the height of his fame, McMillan inspired his own doll, a documentary, a music video and a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. He received about 41,000 votes out of 4 million cast in the 2010 New York governor’s race. Andrew Cuomo, the victor of the campaign, said “I’m with Jimmy. The rent is too damn high” during the infamous debate with McMillain.
“I think Mr. McMillan … really did communicate the mission of his party,” Cuomo added afterwards. Besides his stalwart support for reduced rents, McMillan also expressed no ambivalence about same sex marriage. “If you want to marry a shoe, I’ll marry you,” he said at the time.
McMillan tried to parlay his overnight fame into a presidential run in 2012 as a Republican — at one point he expressed his "love" for Sarah Palin — but he opted instead for a 2013 New York City mayoral run. When his candidacy didn’t pick up much steam, he threw his support behind embattled Democrat Anthony Weiner, who lost to future mayor Bill de Blasio in the Democratic primary. An attempt to run for New York governor again in 2014 fell short, when McMillan was unable to obtain enough signatories to get on the ballot. After five years, it appears his act and tendency to make anti-Semetic remarks on social media wore thin.
Ironically, according the The New York Times, McMillan has been living in stabilized housing rent-free for “at least a decade.”