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Rahm Emanuel's tenant drops out of mayor's race

Rob Halpannounced Monday he is dropping out race for Chicago mayor. (NBC5)

Rob Halpin announced Monday he is dropping out of the race for Chicago mayor. (NBC5)

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Rahm Emanuel’s tenant has dropped out of the mayor’s race.

Rob Halpin’s surprise entry into the race — after his refusal to move out of the former White House chief of staff’s North Side home fueled a residency challenge against Emanuel’s mayoral candidacy — threatened to provide a sideshow to Emanuel’s campaign and the challenge itself.

Both Emanuel and Halpin are expected to be called as witnesses Monday in the first day of hearing’s on the residency challenge against Emanuel.

Halpin is a developer of industrial properties. The Sun-Times has documented a series of problems with the petitions he submitted to run for mayor, but Halpin made no mention of those problems in his statement announcing his withdrawal from the race:

“With the end of a political era pending, the City of Chicago faces some enormous challenges. As a lifelong Chicagoan, I considered a mayoral run because I am passionate about the city, its residents and its future. However, the realities of entering the race at this relatively late stage, including the financial and legal hurdles I’d have to leap in order to win, have forced me to reassess my intention to run at this time,” Halpin said.

“As of today, I am officially ending my candidacy for mayor. It is my sincere hope that, as a city, we come together to address the difficult choices ahead. Although I will not run in 2011, I plan to continue to do all I can, working with both the public and private sectors, to help bring jobs and opportunities to the citizens of Chicago, who have long lost jobs to the suburbs and collar counties.

“I have no plans to either endorse or work against any current candidates and have faith that the voters of Chicago will make the right choice in electing new leadership. Should circumstances ever dictate the need for new leadership, I would remain open to the idea of running in the future when I can more fully put together a campaign capable of bringing real, ethical, responsive leadership and vision to the City. Thank you.”

Halpin’s exit from the mayor’s race drops to 15 the number of candidates still running — down from the original 20.

On the first day of ballot hearings, election officials knocked off four other candidates with the most obviously flawed petitions: M. Tricia Lee, Jay Stone, Tommy Hanson and Ryan Graves.

More candidates are expected to drop off in the coming days and weeks as hearings proceed on candidates’ challenges to each other’s petitions.

The most widely attended hearing Monday was on the residency challenge to Emanuel’s candidacy. Some 32 objectors and their entourages crowded into a small space.

Attorney Burt Odelson said he hoped to have a clean issue to take up to the appellate and possibly state Supreme Court about whether Emanuel met the residency requirement.

But 31 other objectors in the mix means issues about Emanuel’s signatures and whether he filed his statement of economic interest in time will also be discussed. Emanuel could face questions Monday from 32 different objectors, not just Odelson.

Odelson also raised a new issue of whether Emanuel bought a city sticker for his car every year, and, if he did not, did he violate a rule against candidates being in debt to the city. Emanuel’s campaign said he bought the stickers.

One objector, Jeffrey Joseph Black, also shouted that he thought Emanuel ought to be indicted, and he wants to argue that Emanuel or the Chicago Board of Elections are operating as a “racketeering operation.” That’s the kind of “circus” atmosphere that could cloud what Odelson said is a serious residency case against Emanuel.

Hearing officer Joseph Morris said he will try to keep out extraneous issues. For instance, he would not entertain a subpoena to make President Obama come Chicago, raise his right hand and testify what dates Emanuel has been serving him as chief of staff.

“That would be a waste of the president’s time and a waste of my time,” Morris said.

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