NEW YORK — New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, who has drawn fire for not voting in city elections and for having a second home upstate, was mocked as a "tourist" by some people on social media Monday for naming Times Square as his favorite subway station.
To Yang, the choice was a simple one. That's the stop closest to his Manhattan home.
"It's my stop, so Times Square," Yang said in an interview with the comedian Ziwe on her Showtime program, to which the comic reacted with more than a little disbelief.
Yang replied, "It's big. It's cavernous. There are entertainers there. Sure, what's not to like?"
People who don't like Yang pounced on social media, with some questioning how much of a New Yorker he could really be. Real New Yorkers, they said, stay away from tourist-choked Times Square if they can.
But Yang's campaign and his family saw something else in the comments: Racism.
"It's hard to tell what offends them more — that his family has lived near that subway stop for 25 years or that he's an Asian American," Yang's communications director, Alyssa Cass, said.
One political cartoon showing Yang emerging from the Times Square subway station while a bystander quipped "The tourists are back," outraged Evelyn Yang, the candidate's wife.
"I can't believe my eyes," she said on Twitter. "To publish this racist disfiguration of Andrew Yang as a tourist, in NYC where I was born, where Andrew has lived for 25 years, where our boys were born, where 16% of us are Asian and anti-Asian hate is up 900%."
Yang, the former presidential candidate, is among the leading candidates in the Democratic primary for mayor. Voting ends on June 22.
Unlike most of the other leading contenders, he has never held a job in city government before and isn't part of the city's political establishment.
That status as an outsider has helped Yang among some voters, but he's also been the subject of criticism for his lack of experience, and for spending time at his family's house in the Hudson River Valley village of New Paltz, New York, after the pandemic struck, and for failing to vote in the city's last four mayoral elections.
Being a native New Yorker hasn't counted for much in recent city elections.
Huge numbers of voters in the city weren't born there. The most recent holders of the job, Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, grew up in the Boston area.