“The media has a penchant for fame, novelty and energy,” said US Representative Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, who endorsed Mr. Yang.
The candidate’s version of the Trumpian provocation is a series of controversies on Twitter over a slightly misguided enthusiasm for bodegas and subways. “The Daily Show” launched a Twitter parody last week Account featuring a wide-eyed Mr. Yang enthusiastically declaring such gems as “Real New Yorkers want to come back to Times Square.”
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Mr. Yang was less amused than usual by this effort. “It seems like a weird time to use Asian tourist tropes,” he tells me sourly. “I wish it was funnier.”
The joke is also probably on its detractors. He seemed, like Mr. Trump, to simply benefit from the attention. When his campaign asked the fairly small segment of Democratic primary voters who hear from Twitter how they would characterize what they saw about the candidate, 79% said it was positive.
Although Mr. Yang is not new to the city, he is new to his civic life. He never even voted in a mayoral election. The provocative heart of his presidential campaign, a promise to alleviate dystopian and robot-driven social collapse by handing out $ 1,000 a month to a displaced population, makes no sense in city budgeting, and it does. therefore replaced with a cash supplement program. targeted, more traditionally, on the poor. It’s unclear how many people still think he’s the free money candidate.
His campaign’s top staff work for a consulting firm run by Bradley Tusk, a former aide to Mayor Bloomberg and disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Mr Tusk, who also advised Uber, steered Mr Yang towards generalized, pro-business centrism and kept him out of competition from other candidates for the left wing of the primary electorate.
Mr. Tusk told me in an unsupervised moment in March that Mr. Yang’s great advantage was that he had come to local politics as an “empty vessel,” free from fixed views on city politics or to forge alliances. When I asked the candidate what he did with this remark, Mr. Yang was not offended. “A lot of New Yorkers are excited about someone who will come and just try to figure out, for example, what is the best approach to a particular problem, as free from a series of obligations to existing special interests,” he said. -he declares.