Jimmy McMillan, who ran for governor on the "Rent is Too Damn High" platform, knows all too well the issues he was running on: he is facing eviction from his rent-controlled apartment as his landlord seeks to raise the pretty damn reasonable rent.
The mustachioed karate champion McMillan said he pays about $872.96 for a rent-controlled ground-floor apartment on St. Mark's Place in New York City's East Village, where he has lived since 1977. But he said the landlord is trying to kick out his tenants so he can charge rent closer to market prices.
"I've been here since 1977, and they want more money." McMillan said. "It's about 'My Rent is Too Damn Low.' "
McMillan vowed to fight the eviction, something he portrayed as the latest battle in his crusade for tenants' rights. The building's owner, Lisco Holdings, claimed in court documents that McMillan has violated his lease because his primary residence is actually in Brooklyn. McMillan denied those charges, saying that he would not let the landlord "bulldog me."
"That's my apartment, he said. "It is my residence. My name is on the lease."
McMillan's appearance on the political scene injected some levity into an essentially one-sided gubernatorial race, with Democrat and eventual winner Andrew Cuomo enjoying a substantial lead over Republican Carl Paladino from the start. McMillan became an instant fixture, recognizable for his formidable white facial hair and beloved for colorful phrases. When asked his views on same-sex marriage, he replied "if you want to marry a shoe, I'll marry you." After the race, an interviewer questioning him about his alleged presidential aspirations asked him if he thought he could best President Barack Obama.
"As a karate expert, I fear no man," McMillan replied.