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Kramer for Mayor? What next?  
New York City’s deadbeat mayoral campaign takes a turn toward the preposterous  

    May 7 —  If you watch enough re-runs of “Seinfeld,” you’ll eventually see most everything: George getting a real job with the Yankees, Jerry becoming a successful comedian, Elaine—unbelievably—having a good relationship and Kramer running for mayor of New York City.  

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  WAIT A MINUTE—there’s no episode where Kramer runs for mayor of New York. It turns out that’s not fiction at all.
        In fact, just when you thought it was time for Jesse Ventura to go away already, Kenny Kramer—the real-life inspiration for the jobless slacker with the bad hair on “Seinfeld”—has launched a campaign to become New York’s next mayor.
        The fledgling campaign has electrified this city—or, at least, the broad segment of this city that works within the media-industrial complex; people who get excited about things that don’t even register on real people’s radar screens (like electronic dogs, celebrity chefs and 12-person “team coverage” of snow flurries).
        Granted, the city’s first post-Giuliani mayoral race features four dull career Democrats and an astoundingly boring billionaire, but you don’t have to be a Pulitzer to realize that boredom is hardly a legitimate reason to avoid covering a political slugfest.
        And that’s the breech into which Kramer has stepped.
        This only-in-America story started as all such stories start: with a reporter looking for a soundbite from a celebrity—in this case, Kramer, who was asked if he’d consider running for mayor because term-limited Rudy Giuliani can’t.
“If Jesse Ventura can be governor, why can’t I be mayor?”
       Kramer, breaking the unspoken rule of celebrity soundbites, actually took the question seriously. “If Jesse Ventura can be governor, why can’t I be mayor?” he said. The soundbite was heard on 1,500 radio stations around the world, and the next thing Kramer knew, the Libertarian Party (full disclosure: This is the party that once ran Howard Stern for governor) was asking him to be their standard-bearer (fuller disclosure: This is something that obscure parties do in New York, such as when the Green Party ran “Grandpa” Al Lewis—of “Munsters” fame—for governor).
        Instead of emulating Marx (not Karl, but Groucho, who would never belong to a club that would have someone like him as a member), Kramer checked out the Libertarian philosophy—they believe in decriminalizing drugs, preserving individual rights and letting the free market do the rest—and joined the party. “They’re very smart people,” he said of Libertarians. “Some tend to overintellectualize, but they’re smart.”
        Like Woody Allen once said, 90 percent of success is just showing up. A party member for a mere three weeks, Kramer nonetheless won the Libertarian nomination last month. He beat the only other candidate, None of the Above, by a vote of 20-5 (a landslide that could’ve been avoided had None of the Above started campaigning earlier).
        “It would’ve been really humiliating to lose,” Kramer said, who makes his living running “reality tours” of famous “Seinfeld” landmarks. “Imagine having to call None of the Above to congratulate him.”
        Since then, reporters have always been able to find some campaign “expert” who claims that Kramer actually “has a chance” to “win.”
        “New York’s mayoral race is a mess right now,” political guru Doug Friedline, who helped mastermind Ventura’s successful run in Minnesota, told The Daily News. “He has a chance.”
        Sorry, but if no one is willing to inject truth into Kramer’s candidacy, I will: He does not have a chance. Hell would have to freeze over, spin on the head of a needle, graduate from college and sing Tibetan folk songs in a pretty pink dress before Kenny Kramer would even have a shotat becoming New York City’s 97th mayor.
        That said, it’s still a great story! I mean, we’re talking about Kramer! And not the fake, Hollywood version, but the genuine article. Cosmo Kramer may have sold perfume that smelled like the beach, attended acting classes with a midget sidekick and smoked Cubans, but Kenny Kramer—the real Kramer—sold glow-in-the-dark disco jewelry, did voiceovers for X-rated CD-ROMs and had a weakness for a different kind of weed.
        Actually, Kramer credits his copious marijuana use for instilling in him the Libertarian philosophy that nourishes his campaign.
“If I can just get all the pot-smokers to vote for me, I’ll win easily. The only problem is that they can never remember to vote.”
       “I was such a pot-head that I made a bean bag chair out of my marijuana seeds in just three months,” said Kramer. “My campaign is a walk-in closet. I own up to everything I did—the drugs, the sex. I was at the forefront of the Sexual Revolution and I enjoyed every bit of it. Those other guys make such a fuss if someone smoked pot. Well, I smoked a lot in my day and I’ve been to Amsterdam, too.”
        Although he doesn’t toke anymore (so that explains the collapse of Thailand’s economy), some things never change: Kramer’s first big campaign appearance was Saturday at the annual pot rally in Lower Manhattan.
        “If I can just get all the pot-smokers to vote for me, I’ll win easily,” said Kramer, frequently plugging his Web site http://www.kennykramer.com. “The only problem is that they can never remember to vote.”
        For now, the campaign is being waged out of Kramer’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment, the same apartment where Kramer met and formed a lifelong friendship with the guy across the hall, “Seinfeld” co-creator, Larry David (Jerry lived uptown, so it was David’s refrigerator that was always getting raided).
        Recalling those days, David recently told The New York Times that he could not, in good conscience, endorse the fictional Kramer, but he offered his unqualified support for his longtime friend.
        “I actually do think he’d be good for New York,” David said. “He can’t keep a secret, so he’d have a very open government. He’s a very honest person. He’s funny. He’s actually very sensible about many things.” (Honest? Sensible? Who the hell wants that from Kramer?)
        Despite David’s kind words, Kramer only had sympathy for his friend, whose chosen profession has made him rich beyond all dreams of avarice, but forced him to give up that apartment across the hall. “With all his money, he still has to live in California,” Kramer said. “Poor guy.”
        Spoken like a true New York mayor.

Gersh Kuntzman is also a columnist for The New York Post and the author of “HAIR! Mankind’s Historic Quest to End Baldness” (Random House, April 2001). Visit him at http://www.gersh.tv/

       © 2002 Newsweek, Inc.
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