Back in January 2021, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced his candidacy for mayor of New York. Yang had garnered a lot of media attention during his run, especially on his signature platform issue of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Thus, at his mayoral launch, Yang was considered the front runner due to his high name recognition.
The New Yorker recently debuted their mini-documetary (34 minutes) online, “The Andrew Yang Show“:
“The Andrew Yang Show,” a new documentary directed by Sara Joe Wolansky and Gareth Smit, goes behind the scenes to witness how Yang’s outlook and temperament changed as he experienced the highs and lows of political fame.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I did not and could not easily follow too closely the mayoral campaign. I was excited about the possibility of an Asian American becoming mayor of the largest city in the United States though. Yang, although initally a front runner in the race, garnered fourth place, and he quickly conceded that he would not make it through the Demcratic Party primary.
The mini-documentary itself is fairly interesting to me as I didn’t see a lot of media coverage of the race. I did feel that it doesn’t go into the details or provide enough analysis in my opinion as to why Yang had such a poor showing at the polls.
The turning point in the race came with the Times Square shooting of May, 2021, when three bystanders were injured after someone opened fire, following a dispute, on a busy street. “It was at that point where the conversation really shifted toward public safety,” Elizabeth Kim, of Gothamist and WNYC, says. The focus was now on Eric Adams, a former N.Y.P.D. captain, who had campaigned on public safety. Yang tried to pivot to the crime issue and went on the offensive against Adams. He even campaigned with Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, ostensibly to promote ranked-choice voting. But their partnership was not enough to stop Adams, who won the Democratic primary and eventually beat the Republican candidate, Curtis Sliwa, in the general election.
I suspect that Yang didn’t do well since voters were looking for someone with any experience in local or political office. Yang did speak out during all the hate crimes being commited against Asian Americans and supporting the #StopAsianHate movement, but that alone wasn’t enough to garner more support. Yang was still primairly known for his presidential signature policy issue, UBI, but tailored for New York City.
Additionally, Yang admitted (which was confirmed by voting records) that he had never voted in the New York mayoral races. To me, that would be an issue. I have voted in every single election I’ve ever had the opportunity to after college (during college, I wasn’t too sure if I was eligble to vote in the state of New York or in Massachusetts). Personally, I think in a democracy, if you don’t vote, you might as well move to an authoritarian country. In a democracy, freedom and rights come with responsibilities, including voting.
I also think that being mayor is actually a harder day-to-day job than being president (aside from having to deal with any military/national security decisions or national disasters). As mayor, you are directly accountable to the citizenry you represent. The mini-documentary did show some of Yang’s self-inflicted wounds, where Yang could have been more prepared and better versed in the local issues concerning New Yorkers.
In the final round of ranked choice voting in the primary (the first time New York City ever implemented the system, I believe) before Yang got eliminated, he got 14.8% of the vote:
I don’t know much about Kathryn Garcia or Maya Wiley, but from briefly reading their Wikipedia entries, it looks like they definitely both had more experience rooted in New York City government and Democratic politics (in a VERY Democratic city).
If you’re interested in learning more about Yang’s run for mayor, you should definitely give this mini-documentary a look.