NEW YORK: Former United States presidential hopeful and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has announced he will run for mayor of New York City in an election this year that he is an early favourite to win.
Yang, 46, announced his run on Twitter on Wednesday (Jan 13), posting a video of himself skateboarding with his wife on the Brooklyn Bridge.
The son of Taiwanese immigrants - running as a Democratic candidate - said he would aim to reverse the fortunes of a city shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I moved to New York City 25 years ago. I came of age, fell in love, and became a father here. Seeing our City in so much pain breaks my heart," he wrote.
The lawyer turned tech entrepreneur would become the city's first Asian-American mayor.
His mastery of social networks, fervent support within the "Yang Gang" and fundraising skills placed him among the heavyweights of the presidential election.
But he eventually threw in the towel after the New Hampshire primary in February 2020 in a race won by President-elect Joe Biden.
Yang has been criticised by some for spending too much time outside the city he aims to lead. He spent the last few weeks in Georgia, helping the Democrats to win two key seats in the US Senate.
The election to decide Bill de Blasio's successor is scheduled for Nov 2, but in the Democratic stronghold of New York, the race will effectively start in the party's mayoral primary on Jun 22.
Economic recovery is set to be a central theme in the election to lead a city that suffered a severe financial hit when COVID-19 was first recorded there last spring.
Many businesses have closed, unemployment and crime are rising and a budget crisis is looming, raising fears that the city may return to its dark days of the 1970s and 1980s.
Around 30 candidates will jostle to win the Democratic primary.
In a December poll, Yang was the most popular candidate even though he had not yet announced his run. He was almost tied with Eric Adams, a black former police officer who has served as Brooklyn borough president since 2013.
Another prominent candidate is Raymond McGuire, one of New York's most respected black bankers, who has the support of Wall Street and the business community.
A political novice, McGuire has already raised more than US$5 million for his campaign, according to the New York Times.