Kenny Kramer has achieved an unlikely sort of fame as the inspiration for Cosmo Kramer, the wacky slacker on TV's "Seinfeld." But the 57-year-old stand-up comic and electric disco jewelry inventor is now parlaying that celebrity into a serious campaign for the New York City mayoralty (http://www.kramerformayor.com). Kramer appeared at a DRCNet benefit in Washington, DC, on August 24, but before the event, he sat down in the DRCNet offices to tell us about his campaign. Excerpts from that conversation follow.

WOL: How did you get interested in running for mayor of New York?

Kramer: I ran for mayor four years ago as a publicity stunt. Giuliani had a lock on the election, and anyone who was a viable candidate wouldn't risk running against him and looking like a loser. Only Al Sharpton was running, and I figured even I could beat him. I made an announcement that I was running for mayor, called a buddy at AP and told him, and next thing you know it was on the wire and running all over the world. There was no organization, just me and a couple of wackos [doing signature gathering] who were stoned all the time and interested in meeting women. We had all these women's

Kenny Kramer has achieved an unlikely sort of fame as the inspiration for Cosmo Kramer, the wacky slacker on TV's "Seinfeld." But the 57-year-old stand-up comic and electric disco jewelry inventor is now parlaying that celebrity into a serious campaign for the New York City mayoralty (http://www.kramerformayor.com). Kramer appeared at a DRCNet benefit in Washington, DC, on August 24, but before the event, he sat down in the DRCNet offices to tell us about his campaign. Excerpts from that conversation follow.

WOL: How did you get interested in running for mayor of New York?

Kramer: I ran for mayor four years ago as a publicity stunt. Giuliani had a lock on the election, and anyone who was a viable candidate wouldn't risk running against him and looking like a loser. Only Al Sharpton was running, and I figured even I could beat him. I made an announcement that I was running for mayor, called a buddy at AP and told him, and next thing you know it was on the wire and running all over the world. There was no organization, just me and a couple of wackos [doing signature gathering] who were stoned all the time and interested in meeting women. We had all these women's signatures, but they were from Sweden or Australia. But then I issued a statement that running for mayor was too much work, because I figured if running was so much work, then actually being a mayor would be even more work.

This time, my buddy Gary Baumgarden, who is head of CNN radio in New York, asked me if I had any thought of another run for mayor. I told him, listen, Jesse Ventura [Reform Party-affiliated governor of Minnesota] has really inspired me. If a professional wrestler can be governor, why can't I be mayor? So that little sound bite went to 1,600 CNN affiliates, and the next morning Howard Stern and Robin were talking about how Kramer might run again for mayor, and a Libertarian guy happened to hear this and called me and said would you be interested in running as our candidate. I visited the Libertarian web site, I read their agenda, and I figured I'm pretty much on the same page with most of their stuff, so I agreed to run as a Libertarian. Then I had to go to the nominating convention, I had to run against "none of the above." Fortunately I prevailed, 26-4, it would have been horrible to lose to "none of the above." Since I've become the candidate, there have been 30 or 40 hits on TV, a hundred on radio, and newspapers all over the place. Seinfeld shows in 90 countries, so anytime anyone writes about me, it goes on the international wire.

WOL: How serious are you?

Kramer: I am very serious. My character is known to be a slacker without much of a work ethic, but I do want to say that if I am elected mayor I will work hard for the first time in my life. The voters should know I'm well rested. Years and years of resting, so I have lots of stored up energy. I would like my campaign to be a national referendum. Go to my web site -- http://www.kramerformayor.com -- and see that there's some substance to my campaign, then make a contribution, and let's stick a big middle finger up at all these politicians. I think this is something worth doing.

WOL: Mayor Giuliani really has it in for New York City pot-smokers, arresting 60,000 of them last year. What's your stand on the marijuana issue?

Kramer: Obviously, I think that's a tremendous tragedy. First of all, as a Libertarian, I believe less government is better government and the government shouldn't have the right to intrude on the privacy of our lives and tell us how to live. You should be allowed to do anything you choose to do as long as you don't hurt anybody. So, all the victimless crime laws I think are wrong. Not just marijuana smoking, but using needles, too. Some people use needles to decorate themselves, others use them to get high. I don't see much difference.

WOL: Who is your constituency?

Kramer: If I can get the dopers of New York City to vote for me, I will win this thing by a landslide. The problem is getting them to remember to go to the polls that day. But in all seriousness, my appeal would be to college students, first time voters, recent high school grads, people who have avoided politics because there was never anyone they could relate to, I think that's my constituency. Of course, among those people, probably 60% of them are dopers or stone heads or recreational smokers or whatever. We'll be setting up tables on college campuses. There has to be a movement, if we can get to that place, we'll definitely make an impact. We could have two Democrats and two Republicans running, and that could split the vote and leave me an opportunity.

WOL: What other Libertarian issues are you championing?

Kramer: Education, vouchers for schools, charter schools, home schooling. The city of New York has a monopoly on education, there has to be choice.

WOL: How are orthodox Libertarians responding to your candidacy?

Kramer: I haven't had any trouble. I think the fact that I am carrying the Libertarian banner is a huge plus. The Libertarian Party is a third party in American politics, and they don't get a lot of publicity or credibility. A lot of them are not electable, and if you want to be a political party you need to get into office, otherwise call yourself a philosophy club or something. The national party is very much behind me. They've featured me in their newsletter, they've sent out e-mails, they've been very helpful. I've helped out my fellow Libertarian candidates, and that helps me gain credibility within the party.

WOL: Mayor Giuliani has entertained us all with his romantic scandals. Would a Kramer administration be as scandalous?

Kramer: There will be no scandals in my administration, because I admit to everything. I've done it, I've been there, there are no skeletons in my closet. It's a walk-in closet.

WOL: Would a Kramer administration be as entertaining as Giuliani's reign?

Kramer: I would certainly hope so. I would be the first non-politician to have this office. I'm a guy who's been involved in the entertainment world, a guy who likes to have fun. Naturally, if I become mayor, I will have to surround myself with people to deal with serious issues, but I will make this the most fun city in the world.

(DRCNet thanks Kenny Kramer for traveling to Washington to speak at our event last Friday night. We would also like to thank the Velvet Lounge, at 912 U Street, NW, for donating use of their space to us that evening.)

-- END --
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Issue #201, 8/31/01 Editorial: The Big Bully | Plan Colombia Sparks Legalization Groundswell as US Weighs Formal Intervention in Guerrilla War | Justice Department Reports One in 32 Americans Under Correctional Supervision | DRCNet Interview: Kenny "The Real" Kramer of Seinfeld Fame, Libertarian Candidate for Mayor of New York City | Fight For Your Right to Wave Glow Sticks: ACLU Wins Victory in New Orleans Rave Case | Germany Takes Next Step: Heroin Maintenance Trial to Start in February | Poll Finds Support for Marijuana Legalization at Record Level, Though Still a Minority View | US Drug Reformers Head to UN Racism Conference, Letter Asks Secretary General Annan to Put Drug War on Agenda | UN Conventions Need Not Pose Obstacle to Drug Law Reform, European Study Says | Canada's Conservative Fraser Institute Declares Drug War Lost | T-shirts for Victory! Special Offer and Appeal from DRCNet This Month | Action Alerts: Ecstasy Bill, HEA, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, John Walters | HEA Campaign Still Seeking Student Victim Cases -- New York Metropolitan Area Especially Urgent | The Reformer's Calendar
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