For PR reps who spend their time on "call and place" duty for high-priced firms, probably the only thing worse than the inevitably low success ratio is the realization that the people who seem to get the most publicity in the world are people who get it for free.
Which brings us to Jimmy McMillan, founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High political party, who walked away the second biggest winner of Monday night’s gubernatorial debate, after Andrew Cuomo. McMillan, who reportedly is a registered Democrat, has been on the political scene for a while now, running for New York mayor in 2005 and 2009, but hadn’t previously hit his stride until he was not only the one candidate whose existence frontrunner Cuomo acknowledged ("I agree with Jimmy, rent is too damn high") but the only one of five minor-party candidates people were still talking about on Thursday. (Yes, I realize that by writing about him here, I’m being hoisted by own petard.)
McMillan had reporters scrambling after the debate to answer lingering questions such as why he was wearing black winter gloves, and to inform us of McMillan’s endorsement by the American Mustache Institute. So deep was the infatuation of the usually slur-sensitive political press, that no one called him out on the ostensible thinking behind what some saw as his best line, in response to a question about gay marriage, that he’d be willing to marry a person and a shoe, suggesting homosexual unions were equally odd.
In addition to his Don King-like penchant for loud oratory and rhyme, his peculiar arrangement of facial hair, the gloves and his tendency to sprinkle martial arts references into conversations, McMillan has another less beguiling peccadillo: He blames the Jews for rent being too damn high, and in Thursday’s Daily News, for good measure, added in collective responsibility for slavery. No statistics are available on the likelihood of a downstate third-party candidate winning statewide without the sleazy-Jewish-landlord and Jewish descendants-of-slave-owners vote, but McMillan is bravely taking his chances.
Maybe with the money he saves on his own press spokesman and on the $800 apartment he reportedly lives (he has also told reporters he does maintainance for free rent) McMillan could start taking out some ads and traveling the state to run a more serious campaign. For his running mate, he could tap Steven "Jet Blue Escape Chute" Slater, another guy who can command a gaggle of reporters at will. (Secretary of State Octomom?)
McMillan may have no chance, but the media, and the people, will eat it all up. After all, with two major party candidates running for governor, four people vying for the U.S. Senate and a close race for attorney general, when was the last time an entire news cycle dwelled on a serious matter of policy? It’s not as if we’re living in some terrorist-targeted state with an $8 billion budget hole and a dysfunctional legislature. If we were, the Mustache Institiute might have been more picky with that endorsement.