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Jimmy McMillan

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Subject: New York City mayoral election, 2013, Rent Is Too Damn High Party, New York City mayoral election, 2009, United States presidential election, 1996, James Harris (politician)
Collection: 1946 Births, African-American Christians, African-American Politicians, American Christians, American Male Erotic Dancers, American Military Personnel of the Vietnam War, Leaders of Political Parties, Living People, New York City Mayoral Candidates, 2013, New York Democrats, New York Republicans, People from Brooklyn, People from Flatbush, Brooklyn, People from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Politicians from New York City, United States Army Soldiers, United States Presidential Candidates, 1996, United States Presidential Candidates, 2012
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Jimmy McMillan

Jimmy McMillan
McMillan in Brooklyn, New York
Personal details
Born (1946-12-01) December 1, 1946
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Political party Registered Republican
Rent Is Too Damn High Party
Residence Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York City, NY
Occupation Political activist
Perennial Candidate
Karate expert
Religion Christian

James "Jimmy" McMillan III (born December 1, 1946)[1] is an American political activist, perennial candidate, karate expert and Vietnam War veteran, as well as a former postal worker, stripper and private investigator from Brooklyn, New York.

McMillan is best known as the founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, a New York-based political party. McMillan has run for office at least six times since 1993, most notably in the 2010 gubernatorial election.[2][3] He declared in December 2010 that he would run in the 2012 U.S. presidential election as a Republican. He did not appear on the ballot in any state and suspended his campaign to return to the Rent Is Too Damn High Party and run for Mayor of New York City in the 2013 election. He attempted to run for Governor again in the 2014 election but he did not make the ballot.


  • Political career 1
    • Early campaigns 1.1
    • 2010 gubernatorial campaign 1.2
    • 2012 presidential campaign 1.3
    • 2013 mayoral campaign 1.4
    • 2014 gubernatorial campaign 1.5
  • Political positions 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Portrayals 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Political career

Early campaigns

McMillan's first run for political office came in 1993, when he ran for Mayor of New York on the Rent Is Too Damn High ticket. In the course of that campaign, McMillan was at one point tied to a tree and doused with gasoline;[4] he would later climb the Brooklyn Bridge and refuse to come down from it unless television stations broadcast his message.[5] He was ultimately disqualified from the ballot for coming 300 petition signatures short of the 7,500 needed to qualify for the general election ballot.

McMillan next ran for Governor of New York in 1994 by traveling from his home in Brooklyn through upstate New York to Buffalo on foot, staying in homeless shelters along the way; his original itinerary had him walking back to Brooklyn as well, but an injury in Rochester led to him taking a bus home.[6] When he arrived in Buffalo, the site of the state Democratic convention, McMillan disrupted a speech by incumbent Governor Mario Cuomo at the convention and was thrown out because of it.[7] After failing to collect enough signatures to get onto the ballot, he continued in a write-in campaign.

McMillan ran for the United States Senate in the 2000 election in New York but was removed from the ballot.[8]

McMillan qualified for the November general election ballot for Mayor of New York City in 2005 and 2009.[9][10] In 2005, he received over 4,111 votes (0.32%)[11] and in 2009, he received 2,332 votes (0.2%).[12]

McMillan received 13,355 votes (0.3%) in the 2006 gubernatorial election, coming fifth out of six candidates.[13]

2010 gubernatorial campaign

For the 2010 campaign, McMillan filed petitions to appear on the Democratic primary ballot and the Rent Is Too Damn High line. However, he put very little effort into the Democratic petitions, and the vast majority of the 13,350 signatures bearing his name were collected by Randy Credico, who had partnered with McMillan for a joint Democratic petition.[14] Credico had counted on McMillan to collect 10,000 signatures to put his total at over 20,000, above the 15,000 required to get onto the ballot, but McMillan never followed through, leaving both candidates short of the necessary signatures to force a Democratic primary against state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who was thus unopposed. Credico, in response, called McMillan a "jack-off" and a "sorry ass", accusing him of "working against me", "turn[ing] in a wagonload of blank pages and then [leaving] Albany in brand new automobiles."[15] McMillan did file the necessary signatures to get onto the "Rent Is 2 Damn High" line; the petitions were technically invalid because they did not include a lieutenant governor candidate, but McMillan was allowed onto the ballot anyway because nobody challenged the petitions.

During an appearance at a 2010 gubernatorial debate in which McMillan figured prominently, he stated his views on gay marriage, by saying "The Rent Is Too Damn High Party believes that if you want to marry a shoe, I'll marry you." After the debate, McMillan garnered significant attention from the media.[16][17][18][19][20]

McMillan's significant media coverage spawned imitators, such as these two men at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C.

McMillan, perceived by many as a protest vote, garnered 41,129 votes (0.88%), enough to finish in fifth place out of seven, compared to winning Andrew Cuomo's 2.5 million votes and second-place Carl Paladino's 1.4 million votes. McMillan gained almost as many votes as Libertarian Party candidate Warren Redlich (48,359 votes), and nearly double the votes of Anti-Prohibition Party candidate Kristin M. Davis (20,421 votes).[16][20][21][22][23][24]

Regarding his use of black gloves during the debate, "I'm a war vet," McMillan said. "Don't forget I was in Vietnam for two and half years and I have three Bronze Stars, but the chemicals of Agent Orangedioxin and a lot of other chemicals mixed up — I would get sick. When I get home tonight, I know I'm not going to be able to breathe if I take them off. It could be psychological, I don't know, but I just put em on and wear them anyway."[25]

McMillan's gubernatorial campaign was the subject of an independent, feature-length documentary titled DAMN!.[26] Filmmakers Aaron Fisher-Cohen and Kristian Almgren documented McMillan throughout his campaign for Governor of New York, as well as the events immediately following McMillan's loss of the election. The film was an official selection at the Little Rock Film Festival in Arkansas, as well as at the Brooklyn Film Festival, but did not officially premiere until August 2011.[27][28]

2012 presidential campaign

McMillan was a registered member of the Democratic Party.[29] Then, on December 23, 2010, he said that he would switch parties and run as a Republican in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, to avoid a primary challenge from President Barack Obama.[30] He also campaigned with performance artist and activist Vermin Supreme and appeared as Supreme's presidential running mate in the 2014 documentary about Supreme's 2012 presidential campaign, Who Is Vermin Supreme? An Outsider Odyssey, directed by Steve Onderick. McMillan and Supreme made a pact, each agreeing to act as vice president for the other if either were elected.[31][32] He believes that his greatest political strengths include a mastery of social media, an ability to pinch pennies, and inimitable political vision.[33]

McMillan appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2011.[34] He also appeared at Northeastern University in March 2011, through the Political Science Student Association, where he discussed key issues. McMillan campaigned during the Occupy Wall Street protests, criticizing the protesters for voting for the wrong person but defending the protesters' right to protest. On November 15, 2011 McMillan held court on the 23rd floor of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority offices kibbitzing with his legal staff and media representatives.[35] McMillan was the keynote speaker at Occupy Tenafly on May Day 2012. There, he told protesters that college tuition is also "too damn high".

He was not invited to any of the Republican debates and did not appear on any primary ballots. On September 13, 2012, McMillan suspended his candidacy to run for Mayor of New York City in the 2013 election, and endorsed President Barack Obama.[36]

2013 mayoral campaign

Jimmy McMillan in 2013 on a NYC street corner with his car

McMillan announced his fourth campaign for Mayor of New York City on September 13, 2012. On April 24, 2013, McMillan released a song and video called "Rent Is Too Damn High" on YouTube. In the song, McMillan raps about the problems of the American economy. In one part of the song, he says, "Poverty and unemployment both too damn high, Wages and education is too damn low, economic recovery is too damn slow." McMillan's video received over 300,000 views in its two first days after being uploaded.[37][38]

McMillan endorsed Anthony Weiner in the Democratic primary.[39] In the general election, McMillan received 1,990 votes (0.18%).

2014 gubernatorial campaign

On May 22, 2014, McMillan announced his intentions to again run for Governor of New York.[40] However, his petition to be on the ballot was challenged, and he was later thrown off the ballot by the state board of elections, which claimed his petition contained too many photocopied pages to meet the signature threshold.[41][42]

Subsequently, McMillan endorsed the Libertarian Party candidate, Michael McDermott for governor.

Political positions

McMillan's political positions are heavily drawn from populist principles. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle described his 1994 platform as such: "While McMillan said he hopes to be a spokesman for the poor in his bid for Governor, his solutions make him sound more like a Republican."[6]

  • McMillan has come out against federal bailouts, specifically the Wall Street Bailout of 2008 and the Obama Administration's bailout of General Motors. Referencing the bailout and his presidential run, he said of Obama: "If you don't do your job right, I am coming at you."[43]
  • McMillan believes that global warming is a natural occurrence that occurs every 1500 years. He disputes the idea that is caused by man and pollution, saying he "isn't buying [the] punk science" of Al Gore.
  • A supporter of same-sex marriage, McMillan joked in the 2010 gubernatorial debate he would allow marriage between a person and a shoe.[44][45][46] After the Marriage Equality Act passed, McMillan stated of same-sex couples "now you don’t have to marry a shoe, you can marry somebody."[47]
  • On transvestites and transgender people, McMillan says "When you see a guy walk down the street and he’s got a little skirt on, and he’s so happy. Why shouldn’t you be happy? This is America, it’s beautiful to watch someone different."[47]
  • On sexual expression, McMillan says “We all are freaky. He (Anthony Weiner) just exposed his freaky-ism in the wrong way.” McMillan, in regard to Weiner's infidelity and sexual communications, considered them a "marketing bonanza."[39]
  • McMillan, as founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, is against high rent and property taxes for homeowners. He believes that lowering rent and cutting taxes will ease financial stress and help eradicate hunger and poverty, as well as raise tax revenue. He surmises that reducing rent would "create 3 to 6 million jobs" by freeing up capital to give businesses a chance to hire people. He also favors tax credits for commuters.[48][49]
  • McMillan and the party are in favor of writing off all taxes owed to the state, consolidating the rent boards in New York, seizure of unoccupied apartment buildings, reforming the state court system, and free college tuition.[48][49]
  • McMillan is in favor of having fixed rate of low rent across America, which would be the same regardless of property value. He states that adjusting the rent for property value "is a bunch of crap" and "a scheme to run out the poor".
  • McMillan supports allowing laws to be influenced by Christianity. His website states that "we need more reliance on the moral laws brought by religion and not limit out goodwill to our neighbors and co-workers to what the law demands alone." He also spoke of "restoring family values" and ensuring that one parent remains at home to watch children.[50]
  • McMillan and the party oppose any spending cuts to education or elderly care services.[48][49]
  • McMillan has called for investigations of, and has sought to increase awareness of, fraud and Ponzi schemes in the real estate markets.[51]
  • Of his potential Republican opponents for the Presidential nomination, he thinks of Newt Gingrich as a "good liar" in the vein of John Edwards and that "people look at him and laugh", Mitt Romney as a "good-looking guy [that] will keep the ladies from looking at me". He has also stated that he loves Sarah Palin[52] and holds an extremely negative view of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.[53] He views current governor Andrew Cuomo as a do-nothing and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as "just a big mouth (...) New Jersey is crumbling just like every state in the union."[47]

Personal life

Originally from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, McMillan is single and has two adult children; the elder child is a daughter (age 40 as of 2013) who McMillan claims developed disabilities as a result of his exposure to Agent Orange, and the younger is a son (James McMillan IV, age 34 as of 2013), who currently serves in the U.S. military.[54] The elder McMillan served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. After his time in Vietnam, he briefly spent time in the 1970s as an R&B recording artist; he claims to have spent a brief time at Brunswick Records before leaving the label to do independent work.[55] McMillan graduated from Barkley Private Security Investigations Academy prior to 1993.[51] Along with being a male stripper[56] in the past, he stated that he has smoked marijuana in the past, and that his favorite film is Deep Throat.[57]

According to an interview with the New York Times, McMillan does not currently pay rent on a Flatbush apartment he has claimed as his residence and he has not done so since the 1980s but pays with maintenance services provided to the landlord. His landlord apparently allows him to reside in his apartment for free in exchange for performing maintenance work on his apartment building. He had previously told the Wall Street Journal that he pays rent of $800 a month for his apartment, but told the New York Times that he definitely did not pay rent. He pays the rent for an apartment McMillan shares with his son in the East Village in Manhattan, which is $900 per month under current rent controls.[58] The landlord of the East Village apartment is moving to evict McMillan on the grounds that McMillan lives in the Flatbush apartment and not in the East Village one; McMillan, who has held the East Village apartment lease since 1977, claims that the Flatbush apartment is not his residence but instead an office for the Rent Is Too Damn High Party.[59]


McMillan was portrayed by Kenan Thompson on Saturday Night Live. Thompson kept saying "the rent is too damn high" to most of the questions mocking McMillan by making the joke that he only has one political view. He also referred to McMillan as a billy goat and "the black Lorax," and if elected McMillan would be the country's "last black President." McMillan praised the portrayal, saying that "that put me over the top... this election is over. Jimmy's gonna win it."[60]


  1. ^ Ellen Delaney (2010-10-19). "Jimmy McMillan of Rent is Too Damn High Party Steals NY Governor Debate". Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  2. ^ "Rent Is Too Damn High Party Candidate For Governor Jimmy McMillan On 'Inside City Hall'". NY1 Online. October 14, 2010.
  3. ^ Miller, David Lee. "Cuomo, Paladino Play it Straight in a 7-Candidate Free-For-All Debate in New York". October 18, 2010.
  4. ^ Parente, Michele (1993-06-25). "A Political Attack? Would-be mayor tied to tree." New York Newsday.
  5. ^ Raftery, Tom and Miguel Garcilazo (1993-10-27). OWNER OF THE FLYEST HAIR ON EARTH "'Rambo' jams up B'klyn Bridge." New York Daily News.
  6. ^ a b Claflin, Blair (1994-05-11). "Hopeful is running-- and walking: McMillan is no shoe-in for Governor." Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
  7. ^ Cardinale, Anthony (1994). "Unorthodox candidate still campaigning hard for governor." The Buffalo News.
  8. ^ Murphy, Jarrett. "Papa Smurf Runs for Mayor". Village Voice. October 6, 2005
  9. ^ "IPOWER". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  10. ^ "Jimmy McMillan, Mayor". NBC New York. 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  11. ^ "STATEMENT AND RETURN REPORT FOR CERTIFICATION: General Election 2005, Crossover - All Parties and Independent Bodies". 2005-11-08. 
  12. ^ "Online: 2009 NYC General Election Returns". NY1. 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  13. ^ NYS Board of Elections Governor Election Returns Nov. 7, 2006
  14. ^ Katz, Celeste (2010-07-18). NYS Dems Party Chair: Randy Credico & Co. Fail Petition Test: Update ». New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  15. ^ Credico, Randy (2010-08-18). Congratulations, Chuck! You've knocked me off the Democratic primary ballot. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  16. ^ a b "The 'other guys' win points at gubernatorial debate". 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  17. ^ "'"Jimmy McMillan, 'Rent Is Too Damn High' candidate for NY governor, calls campaign a 'revolution. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  18. ^ "Anti-high-rent candidate becoming folk star". 2010-10-19. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  19. ^ Capehart, Jonathan (2010-10-19). "PostPartisan - Move over, Carl Paladino. Sacoya Adams \ has arrived". Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  20. ^ a b "Rent Is Too Damn High candidate steals show at N.Y. gubernatorial debate". Detroit Free Press. 2010-10-19. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  21. ^ "Jimmy McMillan "Rent Is Too Damn High" Candidate Gets 40,000 Votes For N.Y. Gov". Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  22. ^ "'"Jimmy McMillan, 'Rent Is Too Damn High' candidate for NY governor, calls campaign a 'revolution. New York: 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  23. ^ "Anti-high-rent candidate becoming folk star". 2010-10-19. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  24. ^ Capehart, Jonathan (2010-10-19). "PostPartisan - Move over, Carl Paladino. Jimmy McMillan has arrived". Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  25. ^ "Jimmy McMillan's Debate Gloves Explained". New York: Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  26. ^ "Damn the Film". Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  27. ^ "Jimmy-the Rent is Too Damn High-McMillan Documentary to World Premiere at LRFF". 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  28. ^ "Brooklyn Film Festival". Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  29. ^ "Jimmy McMillan Is Not A Registered Member of The Rent Is Too Damn High Party | The New York Observer". 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  30. ^ "Jimmy McMillan Of 'The Rent Is Too Damn High Party' Announces Presidential Bid". December 56, 2010.
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Wing, Nick. "Jimmy McMillan Of 'The Rent Is Too Damn High Party' Announces Presidential Bid". December 23, 2010.
  34. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (2011-02-11). McMillan at CPAC. State of Politics. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
  35. ^ Jimmy McMillan Serenades Occupy Wall Street Protesters. Gothamist. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  36. ^ Chung, Jen (September 14, 2012). "The Rent Is Still Too Damn High: Jimmy McMillan Will Run For Mayor In 2013". Gothamist. 
  37. ^ A Rent Is Too Damn High Party Event. (September 11, 2012). Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  38. ^ The Rent Is Still Too Damn High: Jimmy McMillan Will Run For Mayor In 2013. Gothamist. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  39. ^ a b Gold, Hada (August 1, 2013). Jimmy McMillan: Anthony Weiner for mayor. Politico. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  40. ^ Glenn Blain (August 27, 2014). "Jimmy McMillan prepares to run for governor again on 'Rent is 2 Damn High' ticket". NY Daily News. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  41. ^ Spector, Joseph (September 26, 2014). The ballot's no damn good: Jimmy McMillan tossed from governor's race. Gannett. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  42. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy. "Jimmy McMillan knocked from governor’s race". Capital. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  43. ^ Wing, Nick."Jimmy McMillan Of 'The Rent Is Too Damn High Party' Announces Presidential Bid". December 23, 2010.
  44. ^ Meet Jimmy McMillan, Founder and ‘CEO’ of the Rent Is 2 Damn High Party
  45. ^ Mark W. Watson says: (2010-10-19). Rent is Too Damn High" Party Candidate Steals NY Governors’ Debate (Video) | Yes, But, However!""". Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  46. ^ "Autostraddle — Riese’s Team Pick: Jimmy McMillan for The Rent is Too Damn High Party". 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  47. ^ a b c Too Damn Prophetic: Rent Candidate Says ‘I Told You So’. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  48. ^ a b c "Jimmy McMillan Has But One Message, People... Updated x 2". New York: Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  49. ^ a b c McMillan, Jimmy. The Official Rent Is Too Damn High Platform. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
  50. ^ "The Anti-Defamation Page". Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  51. ^ a b McMillan, Jimmy (2010-02). The Road Less Traveled. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  52. ^ Siegel, Elyse (2011-01-29). "'"Jimmy McMillan: Sarah Palin, 'I Love You. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  53. ^ David Goodman (2011-01-29). "Newsmaker Interview: Jimmy 'Rent Is Too Damn High' McMillan". Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  54. ^ Katz, Celeste (November 23, 2011). The Rent Is Too Damn High? Apparently Not. New York Daily News. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  55. ^ Freedlander, David (2010-12-09). Jimmy McMillan to Take The Rent Is Too Damn High to the Stage. New York Observer. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  56. ^ Is the fame as high as the rent? Jimmy McMillan documentary looks at activist as a media phenomenon. New York Daily News. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  57. ^ Rathe, Adam (August 5, 2011). Jimmy McMillan cops to pot smoking, porn watching in new film. New York Daily News. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  58. ^ Sarah Maslin (2010-10-19). "Opposing Excessive Rent, but Vague About His Own". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  59. ^ Maddux, Mitchell (August 5, 2011). 'Rent is Too Damn High' candidate facing eviction from rent-controlled apartment. The New York Post. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  60. ^ Amira, Dan (2010-10-25). Jimmy McMillan's reaction to SNL parody: 'Election over'. New York Magazine. Retrieved 2010-10-25.

External links

  • Jimmy McMillan for NYC Mayor in 2013 official campaign website
  • Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
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