Andrew Yang's fundraising juggernaut is set to unlock $2 million in public funds, making the NYC mayoral race his to lose
- Andrew Yang's mayoral campaign became the fastest in New York City history to reach 11,000 donors.
- New fundraising totals released over the weekend put Yang in a commanding position.
- Yang has more than $1 million from all donors so far and soon $2 million in matching public funds.
Andrew Yang continues to cement his frontrunner status in the New York City mayoral race by running the table in early fundraising.
He hit 11,000 individual local donors over the weekend, triggering an expected influx of $2 million in matching funds from the city. Yang brought in more than $1 million in total donations, with more than $250,000 coming from city residents, according to a memo released by his campaign on Sunday.
The average donation came in at $84, according to the Yang campaign.
Small donors are matched by a rate of eight to one, with Yang becoming the fourth Democrat in the primary to hit the matching threshold along with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.
However, the NYC Campaign Finance Board has discretion when granting the matching funds. One of Yang's competitors in the Democratic primary, attorney and former MSNBC contributor Maya Wiley, was expected to qualify for matching funds after announcing she had hit the threshold, only for the board to determine she is not yet eligible, according to WNYC.
—Brigid Bergin (@brigidbergin) February 16, 2021
As a former presidential candidate, Yang has a national following from his 2020 Democratic primary bid, but many of the most dedicated in the #YangGang are unable to help his mayoral run as much as they did when he was running for president.
Residency requirements and spending limits under the Big Apple's public campaign finance program mean that Yang supporters who do not live in New York City can't help the campaign reach the threshold for matching funds.
However, with the arrival of Anthony Mercurio, a former Pete Buttigieg campaign alumnus with expertise in less frequented New York City political donors, Yang has shot past the rest of the field in fundraising despite entering the race much later than most of the other candidates.
Yang also has a commanding lead in early polling, with his campaign touting his current base of support of around 25% to 30% of New Yorkers as only the floor for his growing Big Apple mayoral bid. The Yang campaign memo also touted his small donor coalition as crossing over several "lanes" of support, which they argue bodes well for the city's new ranked choice voting system.
"Because we don't fall into one traditional 'lane,' we expect to take some voters from every lane as first, second or third choice," co-campaign managers Sasha Ahuja and Chris Coffey wrote in the memo.
The major planks of Yang's campaign would create a "people's bank" in New York along with "the largest basic income program in the country," an offering that would benefit many New Yorkers struggling nearly a year into the pandemic. The direct payment program would offer families living in "extreme poverty with an average of $2,000 per year," according to Yang's campaign website.
Yang has also promised to leverage his relationship with the Biden administration to help the Big Apple recover economically with more federal programs.
Name recognition is a major factor in Yang's polling and fundraising success so far, particularly in a crowded field in the Democratic primary that is now well into the teens, with eight candidates qualifying for the first major debate in late January.
However, Yang's late entry to the race still leaves him far behind the likes of Adams and Stringer in fundraising, with Wiley and former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire also boasting strong war chests.
Adams is emerging as perhaps the strongest alternative to Yang, with the most widespread financial support from New Yorkers across the five boroughs, as well as deep ties to various constituencies through his time in local politics.
Yang's campaign is betting on a decline in influence surrounding endorsements from local groups and politicians, building their operation around a "digital-first campaign that leverages technology and scalable relational organizing" instead.
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