Pro-Yang PACs take shape as New York mayor’s race enters prime time

On January 14, 2021, Andrew Yang will announce his candidacy for New York City Mayor during a press conference in Morningside Park. | AP Photo / Kevin Hagen

NEW YORK – The money race in New York’s mayor area code is heating up.

A senior political advisor is working to bolster Andrew Yang’s candidacy with the goal of raising $ 6 million for television advertising – one of at least three political action committees working to get the current front runner into town hall.

Lis Smith, a senior advisor to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, is in discussions with potential donors and staff about forming a PAC to operate outside of the city’s strict campaign funding limits to counter negative publicity against Yang, several said persons familiar with the calls to POLITICO.

She has teamed up with Declaration Media, a national democratic company founded by three veteran political activists: Admaker AJ Lenar, who worked on Obama’s presidential campaign; Meredith Kelly, communications director for Kirsten Gillibrand’s White House offering; and Trey Nix, campaign manager for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

Smith, who worked on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 re-election campaign, has rushed to Yang’s defense as his rivals mount.

“#Amateurhour” she tweeted afterwards The press conference of City Strtroller Scott Stringer on Monday Yang’s previous tweet in support of a crackdown on street vendors.

“Others, but also bush league” she added, criticizing a press conference held by former City Hall attorney Maya Wiley, who promotes ethical reform – a move that encouraged reporting on her own mishaps while serving with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Flinch, flinch, flinch, flinch,” Smith said New York Magazinein response to more criticism from Stringer. “Yang is too personable; you can’t hit him like this, it’s like hitting a baby. “

Smith isn’t the only one setting up PACs to raise Yang’s candidacy: two other groups recently filed papers with the state electoral board for the same stated purpose.

Future Forward NYC is led by David Rose, a startup investor who runs the company Entrepreneurial Networking Website Gust. Rose who counts herself as a close friend of Yangworks with Kristie Stiles’ longstanding democratic fundraiser; Nicole Runge D’Ercole, managing partner of the corporate company 4C Partners; Juan Peñalosa, Senior Advisor to Joe Biden’s 2020 Campaign; and John Robinson, chief operating officer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns.

In a March 25 memo to prospective donors, Rose lamented the constraints Yang faces in participating in the city’s campaign funding program – which comes with the significant benefit of publicly sponsored matching funds in return for agreeing to donation limits. (In this regard, Yang is hardly unique – only one candidate in the Democratic Eight-Way Elementary School works outside the system.)

“With investments from generous individuals and organizations, we can ensure that Yang’s message is heard by enough voters to ensure he crosses the 50% threshold to win the Democratic primary on June 22,” Rose wrote in the memo , that was received from POLITICO.

According to the new ranking system, voters can choose up to five mayoral candidates. If no one gets 50 percent of the vote at the first count, second place will be chosen for disqualified candidates.

Rose said his group would test campaign news “to see what moves indecisive primary voters to Yang” and “launch paid voter-outreach programs on all platforms.”

“I’ve known Andrew for years and knew he was special when I first met him in the early days of Venture for America,” Rose wrote in an email to POLITICO, referring to Yang’s previous nonprofit . “He is an optimist who will get the city back on its feet and an entrepreneur who will face this critical moment with boldness.”

Asians for NY supports Yang along with two city council candidates – Sandra Ung and Richard Lee. The group did not raise or spend any money, and their treasurer Nelson Leung did not respond to a request for comment.

At least one PAC does not share warm feelings about Yang: Our City, a group founded by Gabe Tobias of the Justice Democrats, is starting to raise funds to counter the rise of Yang in the polls.

“We want to make sure that a progressive candidate wins the mayor’s race and make sure that no voters vote for a conservative, non-progressive candidate, and that is definitely Andrew Yang,” Tobias recently told POLITICO.

These groups promise an unlimited barrage of cash for the race at the latest, and campaign funding laws prohibit PACs from coordinating with the campaigns.

Food & Water Watch, an environmental organization that was confirmed by Stringer in January, recently set up a PAC to support his campaign.

An independent spending committee backing former Obama and Bloomberg official Shaun Donovan received $ 2 million from the candidate’s father and, according to AdImpact, provided even more than that with a proposed $ 3 million purchase of television advertising. Dollars ready.

A PAC backing Wall Street executive Ray McGuire has raised $ 4 million and booked more than $ 1.6 million on TV and radio spots.

Other wealthy New Yorkers join in.

Billionaire Stephen Ross, who runs the development company The Related Cos. Directs, gave his own PAC half a million dollars – far from it the $ 100 million He had originally said he would spend on this race.

Knicks owner James Dolan has raised $ 1.6 million for his Coalition to Restore New York, an organization that Yang is unlikely to be supported.

FIX: Due to an editing error, the status of Roy Cooper was incorrectly stated in an earlier version of the report. He is the governor of North Carolina.

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