Stubborn Renter Considering Challenge to Emanuel for Chicago Mayor

Would-be candidate Rob Halpin is renting Emanuel's house and won't move out.

Nov. 10, 2010 -- Rahm Emanuel not only has a turf fight on the home front in his bid to become Chicago's mayor but a turf fight in his home.

When the former White House chief of staff decided to return to Chicago this year, he first asked Rob Halpin, the man renting his house while he was in Washington, to move out. Halpin refused.

Now, from the comfort of Emanuel's own home, Halpin is considering a bid for Chicago mayor.

''People have come to me asking me to consider running for mayor," Halpin told ABC affiliate WLS in Chicago. "If they get the signatures needed and get me on the ballot, I will run."

That is a pretty tall order. Halpin needs to file a petition with 12,500 signatures by Nov. 22 to make the February election.

But the opposition to Emanuel's march to become mayor may need some help. In the days after longtime mayor Richard Daley's surprise announcement that he would not seek another term, as many as 15 local leaders suggested they'd be interested in succeeding him.

Since Emanuel confirmed his intentions, though, six have backed out and some others remain undecided.

"Some just don't have the resources to go up against Rahm," says Dick Simpson, a politics professor at the University of Illinois. "He'll face four or five viable candidates" when they file later this month, but "Rahm is the frontrunner."

Halpin apparently sees himself among the "Rahmstoppers," a term used by the Chicago Tribune's John Kass, who first reported Halpin's story. "I will be an alternative to some of the people that are running for mayor," Halpin told WLS.

The industrial developer will need some industrial-strength help if he is serious. As James Parrilli, one of the people who met with Halpin to discuss a mayoral bid, told ABC News, "It's absolutely impossible."

Parrilli is a Republican committeeman in the heavily Democratic city who, "by nature, is going to support a business guy" like Halpin.

"I told him the only way to do this is to put $20,000 in an account right now and go hire people to get this [collecting signatures] done," Parrilli said. "He doesn't have that knowledge, doesn't know the right people. He has no credibility."

Parrilli said that when he left Halpin's house after meeting with him Sunday, "he wasn't ready" to put up the money needed.

Emanuel's Residency Problem?

But even if Halpin's bid is a non-starter, it has drawn attention to an issue that helps the so-called Rahmstoppers: Emanuel's residency.

The question of whether he is even qualified to run has loomed over him. The challenge likely to be raised by opponents is based on a longstanding municipal statute that says a candidate must have resided in the city for one year preceding the election.

The city code is clear and there's a real case to be made against Emanuel, election lawyer Burton Odelson said.

"If Rahm had left his house vacant, just as the president of the United States did, and come back to it on occasion, he would have no problem," he said. "He gave up his interest in living in the city of Chicago."

If so, he also gave it up to a stubborn renter and now a possible challenger.