Democrat Andrew Yang, a New York entrepreneur who created buzz for his presidential campaign by championing a universal basic income that would give every American adult $1,000 per month, suspended his 2020 bid on Tuesday.
Yang announced the decision in a speech to supporters shortly after polls closed in the New Hampshire primary. The decision came as he expected a poor performance in the Granite State.
The 45-year-old was one of the breakout stars of the Democratic primary race, building a following that started largely online but expanded to give him enough donors and polling numbers to qualify for the first six debates.
He outlasted senators and governors, and after initially self-funding his campaign, he raised more money than most of his rivals, bringing in over $16 million in the final quarter of last year. It was a bigger haul than all but the top four candidates: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Yang grew his outsider candidacy by campaigning as a non-politician, someone who mixed unconventional campaign events — from bowling to ax throwing — with serious talk about the millions of jobs lost to automation and artificial intelligence and the dark outlook for American jobs and communities.
The graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School gave campaign speeches full of statistics and studies that often resembled an economics seminar. His supporters, known as the Yang Gang, donned blue hats and pins with the word MATH — short for his slogan Make America Think Harder.
Yang promoted his signature issue of universal basic income, which he dubbed the "freedom dividend," by announcing during a debate that he would choose individuals to receive the monthly $1,000 checks. The statement prompted questions about whether he was trying to buy votes, but also generated a buzz online and helped the campaign build a list of possible supporters.
His poll numbers were high enough, combined with his fundraising strength, to qualify for him for all of the 2019 debates, though he fell short of Democratic National Committee's qualifications to participate in the January debate in Iowa. He qualified for the February debate in New Hampshire.
Yang spent most of January in the leadoff caucus state, including a 17-day bus tour during which he told voters his finish in Iowa would "shock the world."
Yang's exit leaves former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Sanders, who was raised in Brooklyn, as the only New Yorkers left in the race. Fellow New Yorkers Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and current mayor Bill de Blasio dropped out in 2019.
The Atlantic reported Tuesday night that Yang didn't rule out running for mayor of New York City. Yang's spokesperson did not comment when NY1 reached out.
Friends say the state and city have shaped Yang, who was born upstate in Schenectady to Taiwanese immigrant parents and raised in Westchester. Yang says he was the "skinny Asian kid … who was ignored or picked on." He writes in his 2018 book that the experience made him value the underdog, whether it's the loner at a party, a fledgling company — or the Mets.
After graduating from Brown, Yang attended Columbia Law School. He made his fortune selling a test-prep company. He then founded a non-profit group that encourages entrepreneurship.
He, his wife, and their two young sons live in Midtown and keep a second home in New Paltz in the Hudson Valley.
New York was home to Yang's campaign headquarters as well as one of the most devoted chapters of his Yang Gang.
"Being a New Yorker and being a supporter for Andrew Yang, who is a New Yorker, I think every minute of my fight is worthwhile," says supporter Ching Juhl.
"I definitely see the resilience," says supporter Nick Rivera. "He has a swagger about him because he knows the life here in the city."
Yang raised more than $600,000 from New Yorkers in the first three quarters of 2019.
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