Andrew Yang opens office in Iowa City

2020+Democratic+hopeful+Andrew+Yang+speaks+to+a+crowd+of+about+120+attendees+at+the+opening+of+his+Iowa+City+campaign+office+on+Nov.+2%2C+2019.+Yang+spoke+about+automation%2C+universal+basic+income%2C+education%2C+and+his+strategy+for+edging+out+Donald+Trump.
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Andrew Yang opens office in Iowa City

2020 Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang speaks to a crowd of about 120 attendees at the opening of his Iowa City campaign office on Nov. 2, 2019. Yang spoke about automation, universal basic income, education, and his strategy for edging out Donald Trump.

2020 Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang speaks to a crowd of about 120 attendees at the opening of his Iowa City campaign office on Nov. 2, 2019. Yang spoke about automation, universal basic income, education, and his strategy for edging out Donald Trump.

Jenna Galligan

2020 Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang speaks to a crowd of about 120 attendees at the opening of his Iowa City campaign office on Nov. 2, 2019. Yang spoke about automation, universal basic income, education, and his strategy for edging out Donald Trump.

Jenna Galligan

Jenna Galligan

2020 Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang speaks to a crowd of about 120 attendees at the opening of his Iowa City campaign office on Nov. 2, 2019. Yang spoke about automation, universal basic income, education, and his strategy for edging out Donald Trump.

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

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Andrew Yang greeted, by his count, 120 people at his office opening in Iowa City Saturday night.  

“What’s the fire code here?” Yang said to laughs from those surrounding him.

It’s the candidate’s third office in Iowa. His first two opened in Davenport and Des Moines in September. 

With less than a hundred days until the Iowa caucuses, Yang’s campaign is transitioning to more traditional inroads with new hires, releasing an ad, and posting comparable fundraising numbers to middle-of-the-pack candidates. 

About a dozen campaign staffers and volunteers milled around the tightly packed room Saturday and stationed outside after the event to hand out fliers and sign people up to volunteer for Yang out of the new office. Many attendees donned MATH hats, which stands for Yang’s slogan of “Make American Think Harder” and interacted with Yang, chanting responses when prompted.

 

Jenna Galligan
2020 Democratic hopeful Andrew Yang speaks to a crowd of about 120 attendees at the opening of Yang’s Iowa City campaign office on Nov. 2, 2019. Several attendees expressed that Yang is their number one choice, and they do not have a second-place candidate in mind.

Once a “longer-than-long-shot” candidate as the New York Times wrote in 2018, Yang has consistently qualified for the Democratic debates as others fail to meet the threshold. For the November debates, he met the polling and donor requirements before candidates with more political name currency, such as Julian Castro.

Yang announced a six-figure digital ad buy in early states, including Iowa, Oct. 29. The commercial features him and his wife talking about their kids, one of which is autistic.

“If you have a child with special needs, it’s expensive. If you don’t have access to good health care, families literally have nothing,” Evelyn Yang said.

Yang has raised $15 million over the course of his campaign, according to Federal Elections Commission reports, putting him about 13th in terms of how much money the campaign has to wield.

Yang’s traveling press secretary, Erick Sanchez, said the Yang campaign would be hiring a new Iowa communications director soon. 

According to a Daily Iowan review of the FEC documents, the campaign had two people on its payroll in Iowa specifically since the campaign began, and about 20 different people on its national payroll.

At his Iowa City event, Yang focused on his proposal to give each American $1,000 a month to combat job losses to automation. 

Jenni Naughton, an educator from Iowa City, said she was surprised to find herself motivated enough to donate to a political candidate. Saturday was the first time she’d seen Yang in person, and seeing him cemented her belief, she said, that Yang can win the Iowa caucuses Feb. 4. 

“This is the first time I’ve been excited about a candidate this far out from the election,” she said. “It’s the first time that I’ve donated to a campaign because he just makes a lot of sense.” 

Kyle Kopf, a University of Iowa student who stood outside the venue after the event to sign people up to pledge their support and volunteer for the Yang campaign. A member of the campus Democrats, Kopf first saw Yang at a Johnson County BBQ in 2018 and since got involved with the campaign.

He said he liked Yang’s way of speaking plainly, and merging technology with his plans for the country.

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