Oh, how we laughed when we first heard about the upstart political party, and then got our first look at its charismatic leader, with his booming voice and unconventional facial hair!
But the next thing we know, McMillan is a candidate in the 2005 mayoral election, and 4,000 people voted for him. And then we started thinking about it and, yes indeed, the rent is too damn high!
And we weren't alone. While the party itself may have been somewhat of a joke, McMillan was bringing up a very valid concern about living in New York City.
People started to come around, and by the 2009 election McMillan was even treated like a serious candidate, appearing in televised debates with more “serious” candidates for mayor.
And his message was starting to gain traction. That year over 40,000 people voted for him. At one point there were actually three registered voters in the Rent Is Too Damn High Party in New York State.
Those people who did vote for him probably never seriously thought McMillan would win a citywide election, but wanted to send a message to elected officials that there were people out there who were concerned about the runaway rents in the city and were willing to cast their vote on the singular issue.
Enter Slawek Platta, a Republican who is running for a south Queens State Senate seat currently held by Joseph Addabbo. Believe it or not, he will actually have a GOP primary challenger in Tom Sullivan, a Republican from the Rockaways.
But if he loses to Sullivan, that doesn't necessarily mean that you won't see Platta on the ballot in November. He moved quickly to gather over 4,000 signatures throughout the district to create the No Homeless Shelters Party.
If the Board of Elections certifies the petitions, they are currently being challenged by members of the more established political parties, then Platta could theoretically run on that line in November.
We can't really overstate want a huge issue homeless shelters are in this district, from a proposed shelter in Glendale to another in South Ozone Park, where a man named Sam Esposito has been camped out and on a hunger strike since the beginning of the month in opposition.
So it was kind of brilliant for Platta to create a political party centered on the issue, for three (that we can think of, there may be more) distinct reasons.
The first being if the Board of Elections doesn't certify the party line, it will look like they are stifling the voices of over 4,000 registered voters who want to see that line on the ballot, making Platta a sympathetic figure in the primary.
Secondly, if the party line is approved and Platta loses the primary in September, he could still be on the ballot in November, giving him a second chance at winning the seat.
But lastly, and the best-case scenario for Platta, is he wins the Republican Primary and he is on the November ballot on two different lines.
Platta will get the vote of GOP diehards, but how many registered Democrats on a lark in the voting booth vote for Platta on the No Homeless Shelters Party line to send a message to elected officials about how they feel about the issue, party loyalty be damned?
Those one-issue voters might not have made much of a difference for McMillan in a citywide election, but in a much-smaller State Senate district, it might be enough of a push to pull off a stunning upset, especially when you are talking about the hugely polarizing issue of homeless shelters.
Which got us to thinking, what are some other political parties based on controversial issues that might sway an election? We have a few ideas:
• Make the Wilpons Sell the Mets Party
• Traffic is Just Too Damn Bad Party
• Make the McRib a Year-Round Option Party
• Dorothy, Blanche, Rose & Sophia Party (we know you're out there!)
• It's Going to Be a Party, Ya'll! Party (which is consistently in opposition to the platform of the Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over! Party)
We're sensing a new trend that is going to give a whole new meaning to the phrase “partisan politics”!