Democrat Andrew Yang filed formal paperwork on Dec. 23 that could see him run for mayor in New York City, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
Yang ran for president in 2020 in a crowded field of more than 20 Democrats. He quit the race in February and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in March.
The 45-year-old ran on a promise to enact “universal basic income,” a wealth redistribution scheme in which the government would dole out $1,000 checks to each person in the United States aged 18 and older. Yang argued the scheme was necessary to counteract the advent of automation.
Current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has similarly not been shy about ideas like wealth redistribution.
“We needed to profoundly change the distribution of resources. I like to say very bluntly, our mission is to redistribute wealth,” the mayor said earlier this month. “A lot of people bristle at that phrase. That is, in fact, the phrase we need to use.”
Yang has said that the idea is not socialist.
“Universal basic income is not socialism. It’s capitalism where income doesn’t start at zero,” he argued in a promotional video. “It’s the next form of capitalism. It’s the trickle-up economy.”
Yang has not formally declared his candidacy in New York but the paperwork is the first official step towards launching a campaign. Should he proceed, he would enter the race with the advantage of high name recognition among voters.
More than a dozen other candidates have already made their declaration, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Maya Wiley, a civil rights activist and lawyer who previously worked for de Blasio.
De Blasio, also a Democrat, is nearing the end of his second and final term. Registered Democrats will vote for their nominee on June 22, 2021, ahead of the general election on Nov. 2.
The Ivy League-educated son of Taiwanese immigrants and a native New Yorker, Yang would be the city’s first Asian-American mayor if successful.
He previously worked as a corporate lawyer before founding a company that helped students prepare for school tests and a non-profit organization called Venture For America, which trains recent college graduates to work at startup companies.
Reuters contributed to this report.