The rusty guns of Democratic primary politics sounded on Tuesday, signaling would-be candidates to begin gathering the signatures needed to win a coveted place on November’s ballot. But one busy canvasser, debuting at Maria Hernandez Park this week, stood out from the rest: Democratic candidate Paperboy Love Prince.
Even if the hype around the nonbinary candidate wasn’t already raised by a recent write-up in the New Yorker — their electoral platform was summed up as “cancel rent, abolish the police, legalize psychedelics” — Paperboy’s sartorial flare made the Bushwick-based candidate/rapper/activist stand out.
Paperboy’s voluminous red jacket, enhanced with the kind of massive, billowing sleeves popular among 16th Century Dutch merchants, complemented their loose-fitting silver-spangled tan pants and a pair of plush pleading-eyed puppy slippers. Hanging from their neck by a garland of gold chains, was a battered Gameboy Advance. Only Paperboy’s piercing brown eyes could be seen gazing out from below a giant Russian fur hat, their voice muffled by a white N95 mask.
“Today we’re going to keep it pretty local,” said Paperboy, standing with clipboard in hand, wind whistling in the dead branches overhead. “Part of our strategy is conserving energy. We’re getting our feet wet here; we don’t feel like we need to do it all in one day, so we’re keeping it within a half-mile radius around the Love Gallery.” (The Love Gallery, at 1254 Myrtle Avenue, is Paperboy’s unofficial headquarters.)
The signature minimum needed for ballot consideration varies according to office and/or district, but an edict from by Governor Cuomo at the start of the coronavirus pandemic one year ago reduced the minimum by a whopping 70% in order to minimize the physical contact that comes with on-the-street canvassing. Nevertheless, getting the word out isn’t easy, especially for a candidate as far down into the grassroots as Paperboy. Although mayoral candidates need at least 2,500 signatures, Paperboy and their canvassers are aiming at 10,000. As Paperboy’s deputy campaign manager Stefano DiBlasio told me: “The bigger the stack, the more irrefutable the results.”
To maximize their reach during the month-long signature gathering period, many candidates will often hitch wagons. Generally, less candidates will help gather signatures for more established ones, who then return the favor.
Co-petitioning with Paperboy is Theo Chino, a candidate for Public Advocate. Chino can be seen in this video throwing in his lot not only with Paperboy, but District 26 City Council candidate Badrun Khan and Rick Echevarría, who is looking to unseat District 37 City Councilwoman Darma V. Diaz.
Not content with a measly mayoral run, Paperboy is simultaneously gunning for the position of judicial reviewer. Paperboy told Bushwick Daily they plan to nominate another candidate for the same office in a different district: the rapper Jay-Z.
Last year, Paperboy also volunteered themself as a hypeman for Andrew Yang’s 2020 campaign. Yang, whose universal basic income proposal the Bushwick rapper has since adopted as part of their own platform, is now among Paperboy’s rivals for the big chair in November.
“[Signature-gathering] is a good way to get out and raise awareness for the issues,” said Paperboy, puffy red sleeves billowing wildy in the stiff breeze. “Because bigger than getting on the ballot is taking care of what we need to take care of.”
They laughed and added: “But the best way to get the issues out there is to get on the ballot!”
Having run for elected office before the lavishly coutured candidate clearly isn’t daunted by long odds —it likely won’t be the last we see of Paperboy Love Prince and their big red jacket.
Top photo credit: Matt Fink.
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