Andrew Yang’s political journey: From presidential hopeful to new political party

Politics

FILE — In this March 18, 2021, file photo, Andrew Yang, a New York City Democratic mayoral candidate, speaks at the National Action Network in New York. With just under six weeks to go before the June 22 primary, former presidential candidate Yang is clinging to front-runner status. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(NewsNation Now) — Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur, lawyer, and philanthropist, is leaving the Democratic Party. The former presidential and New York mayoral candidate announced he’s changed his voting registration from Democrat to independent and plans on creating a new political party.

Here’s a brief history of Yang’s journey from technology startups to the 2020 presidential election, to becoming a third-party founder.

1975: Andrew Yang, the youngest of two children, was born in Schenectady, New York, to parents who immigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. in the 1960s.

The 1990s: Yang attended Brown University (1992-1996), where he studied political science and economics. Then, he attended law school at Columbia University (1996-1999).

The 2000s: After law school, Yang dove into his passion for entrepreneurship. He went on to launch a variety of startups in the early 2000s — eventually becoming CEO of Manhattan Prep, a test prep company. Yang resigned as the company’s president in early 2012. He also became involved in other ventures, including a party-organizing business.

2011: Yang began to work on creating a new nonprofit fellowship program. He founded the successful nonprofit Ventures From America (VFA), a nonprofit that focuses on creating jobs in struggling American cities, in 2011. It prompted the Obama Administration to name him a “Champion of Change” in 2012. He was later selected as a “Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship” in 2015.

Yang and his wife Evelyn were married in January 2011.

2017: In March 2017, Yang stepped down as CEO of VFA to prepare for his presidential campaign. Nine months later, he filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for the Democratic nomination to be the president of the United States in 2020.

2019-2020: Initially considered a long shot, Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” policy quickly catapulted him to the top. He wanted to offer $1,000 every month to every American adult over 18. 

Yang’s campaign gained significant momentum in February 2019, following appearances on popular podcasts and shows, including The Joe Rogan Experience, The Breakfast Club, The Ben Shapiro Show, and Real Time with Bill Maher.

During his run, Yang amassed a loyal base of internet-savvy supporters known as the “Yang Gang” or “#YangGang.” Supporters brought attention to Yang’s campaign across social media platforms.

By March 2019, Yang had met the polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify for the first round of Democratic primary debates. In August 2019, he met the higher thresholds to qualify for the second round of Democratic debates.

However, Yang was not able to connect with enough voters outside his base, and did not finish in the top five in the New Hampshire primary or Iowa caucus. He dropped out of the race in February 2020.

2021: In January 2021, Yang announced his candidacy for New York City mayor. Initially a trendy pick to secure the Democratic nomination, he began to sink in the polls and withdrew from the race after the first round of votes were counted.

On Oct. 4, Yang announced he changed his voter registration to independent after being a registered Democrat for 20 years. In an essay, he said he felt that the political system “is stuck,” and won’t allow him to “do as much as I can to advance our society.”

Meanwhile, Yang is also planning on creating a new political party called The Forward Party, Politico, Business Insider and others reported last month. The announcement is mentioned in the last chapter of his latest book, “Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.”

Yang has also written two other books: “Smart People Should Build Things” (2014) and “The War on Normal People” (2018).

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