Mr. Yang was not, however, the first contender to condemn the Georgia shootings, tweeting late that night instead about a St. Patrick’s Day scarf, in a move that struck some observers as tone deaf. (He later said that he had not seen the news on Tuesday. He issued a series of tweets about Atlanta on Wednesday morning, before making public remarks.)
On Thursday, Mr. Yang’s voice appeared to waver with emotion as he spoke at an event convened by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader. Speaking in starkly personal terms, Mr. Yang discussed the importance of “seeing that Asian-Americans are human beings, Asian-Americans are just as American as anyone else.”
“I’m glad that he’s leaning in,” said Representative Grace Meng, the only Asian-American member of New York’s congressional delegation. “I felt like he was getting a little emotional. And I think that the Asian-American community likes to see more of that.”
Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of New York’s Asian American Federation, said there were signs that Mr. Yang was connecting in particular with younger Asian-American voters.
“They’ve said, well, nobody has invited us, drawn us into politics, we don’t see ourselves reflected in any of these spaces,” she said. “If those are the reasons Asian-American young people are not engaging, I think Yang’s done a pretty good job of leading the conversations and drawing young people in.”
But, she added, “Other non-Asian candidates should not assume that Asians only vote for Asians.”
Interviews with around a dozen community leaders, elected officials and voters suggest that the candidates who are best-known to Asian-American New Yorkers include Mr. Yang, a son of Taiwanese immigrants, and two veteran city officials: Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, and Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller.