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NYC’s ‘Rent Too High’ Candidate: I Can’t Quit Now

New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan, of the Rent is 2 Damn High Party, participates in a debate held at Hoftstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Audrey Tiernan, Pool)

Jimmy McMillan says he can’t quit now — the rent is still “too damn high.”

The man who became the breakout star of New York’s race for governor said Wednesday that he got so much support, he has to keep going.


“I’ve been saying this for years, and people finally listened,” he told The Associated Press. “Because of that, I can’t quit now.”

Not that he’s entirely sure what his future direction should be; McMillan just knows he’s going to be busy, trying to make something out of the Rent is 2 Damn High party.

“It’s up to me to keep the flame going,” he said. “If the flame dies, it’s because of me.”

McMillan, 63, is a perennial fringe candidate who has also run for Senate and mayor. He has blamed rent prices in part on Jewish landlords, for which he later apologized, and has given conflicting stories on how much he pays.

He became an Internet and cable TV sensation after a debate in which he repeated his point about New York’s price of living: “The rent is too. Damn. High.”

He received almost 40,000 votes Tuesday in the race won by Democrat Andrew Cuomo. That’s not enough to automatically qualify for the ballot in 2014 but three times more than he won in 2006, the first time he ran for governor.

McMillan said he was surprised that the outcome wasn’t in his favor.

“I’d like to know what they were thinking about,” he said of the state’s voters. “They can’t afford to live here and they voted the way they did.”

Even where he didn’t earn votes, McMillan did find people who agreed with his message.

“I’m 33. I have two roommates. In other cities that would be unusual, but here it’s par for the course,” Manhattanite Ben Finane said Tuesday after voting down the Democratic line. “I think rent IS too damn high.”

McMillan didn’t have high hopes for the Cuomo administration making things better but said he would be willing to take a job if it were offered to him.

“If Andrew Cuomo called me, said, ‘Could you help me and give me some of your ideas,’ I would be there in a heartbeat,” he said.

Running in the New York City mayoral race coming up in a few years was a possibility, McMillan said. One thing he ruled out, despite saying he had received encouragement from people, was a run for president.

“I like Barack Obama, I’m not going to do that,” he said. “That would never happen.”

By DEEPTI HAJELA,Associated Press

Associated Press writer Samantha Gross contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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