Rick James, a Democratic council candidate in Hattiesburg's Ward 4, shares his name with the recently deceased funk singer/songwriter popularized by an infamous sketch on Comedy Central's "Chapelle's Show," which lampooned James the artist, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.
"My mama gave me that name," James the politician said. "I didn't just pluck it out of the air for a publicity stunt."
He added: "We can put 10 signs up, and they're gone the next morning, At $5 a pop, I figure we're out about $400. We're not rich people and we're down to about eight signs.
"And it's affecting the election. You see your opponents' signs up everywhere, but where's mine? On somebody's wall, I suppose."
James' plight gained national attention when his wife, Diane, e-mailed Comedy Central with a request for reimbursement.
"I wrote them half-jokingly," she said, "but the next thing I know, the New York Post is calling and Comedy Central is releasing a statement."
In its statement, the network said it regretted the thefts, but made no mention of reimbursement, the Clarion-Ledger said.