WHEN ANDREW YANG dropped off his petition signatures at the city’s Board of Elections—something all candidates must do to appear on the ballot—he ran through a gauntlet of supporters, slapping elbows all the way. He announced to the crowd how many he had gathered (more than 9,400) by singing to the tune of “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent: “How many signatures could you get in a year?” He dared anyone there to guess exactly how much all those petitions weighed, as cameras clicked and reporters live-tweeted the spectacle.
Yang wasn’t the only candidate to invite the press to watch a drop-off of signatures, and the total number he gathered was smaller than that of many others in the field, a few of whom submitted over 20,000. But he was the only one to turn what is usually a dry ritual before a municipal bureaucracy into an event, getting the kind of coverage the rest of the candidates no doubt envy as they roll out high-profile endorsements and ambitious policy positions to an audience of almost no one.
Yang entered the race for mayor two and a half months ago. Conventional wisdom had him getting eaten alive by the press corps after showing how little he knows about New York City and its government, failing to impress union bosses and political leaders, and probably getting bored along the way. The first poll came out more than a month before Yang entered the race; he led that one. The same conventional wisdom tended to discount this as a shortlived state of affairs due purely to his fame as a presidential candidate. But he has continued to lead in every poll since, often by a fairly sizable margin. He raised a projected $6.5 million in just 57 days with more individual donors than any other candidate, even those who have been raising money for years. There are now fewer than three months until Election Day. If Yang is going to be stopped from becoming the 110th mayor of New York City, what is going to stop him?
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