Yang Slammed After Trying To Justify Fleeing New York City During Pandemic


Reaction was swift and harsh on Monday after Andrew Yang, the entrepreneur and former Democratic presidential candidate who has filed paperwork to run for mayor of New York City, complained in an interview about his cramped Manhattan apartment as he tried to justify leaving the city during the pandemic, a response that led some to muse whether the high-profile candidate was ready to take on the vigors of a grueling primary laden with many litmus tests about what constitutes a true “New Yorker.”

Key Facts

In an interview with the New York Times that went viral on Monday, Yang was asked why he decided to flee the city to his second home in upstate New York, a fact Politico reported Friday: “We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan,” Yang responded, before asking rhetorically, “Can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment and then trying to do work yourself?”

“No one, except every parent in NYC,” Kristen Johnston, an actress, tweeted in response, echoing the countless others on Twitter who noted most New Yorkers did not have the luxury of a country home to escape to as the pandemic ravaged the city. 

“Yes, actually I can,” New York City Comptroller and Democratic mayoral candidate Scott Stringer said on Twitter, replying to a tweet with Yang’s quote. 

Yang has two children—one with autism—and his wife, Evelyn, has vented about the stress of taking care of a child on the spectrum during the pandemic.     

In a statement to Business Insider after criticism boiled over, Yang said he had spent his “time just about evenly across NYC, where my kids and special needs son are enrolled in school” and upstate, where his “kids could spend more time outside in the depths of the first wave,” and in Georgia, “where I’m proud to have worked day and night to elect my friends Reverend Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate.”  

What To Watch For 

Yang has yet to formally announce he is running for mayor, but he has begun preparing for a bid, including signaling he will hire Martin Luther King III to serve as co-chair of his campaign, according to the New York Times

Key Background 

More than 400,000 people—mostly from the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods—fled the city between March 1 and May 1 last year, according to data reviewed by the New York Times

Surprising Fact

Yang has yet to vote in a New York City mayoral election. Asked about his voting history, Yang told the Times he may have taken the office “somewhat for granted.”

Crucial Quote

“You know one thing I’m proud of?” Yang said on Twitter on Monday. “I didn’t have to attack anyone to get here. Thanks #yanggang. Big days ahead.” 

What To Watch For 

Yang told the Times he is planning to run on a platform similar to the one he did during the presidential race, including a universal basic income and improved broadband access, as well as the establishment of a “people’s bank of New York” which would help poor New Yorkers.   

Further Reading

Andrew Yang Files Paperwork For Possible NYC Mayoral Run (Forbes)

Andrew Yang Weighing Bid For Mayor Of New York City (Forbes)

Can Andrew Yang Make It in New York City Politics? (New York Times)

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