When Rahm Emanuel resigned as White House chief of staff back in September to run for mayor of his hometown, Chicago, the last thing he was probably thinking of was dealing with an irascible tenant. The blustery former congressman had rented his Chicago home to Robert Halpin, a self-described industrial real-estate developer, while he performed his White House duties.
There was just one problem: Halpin wouldn't agree to move out--not even to allow Emanuel and his family to move into the basement unit to re-establish their local bona fides in the city that Rahm hopes to run.
"I have no plans to move," Halpin told the Chicago Sun-Times.
As Halpin explained back in September, he'd just renewed his lease with Emanuel earlier in the month--days before the city's current mayor, Richard M. Daley, announced his decision to resign. Had Emanuel been aware that the post he calls his "dream job" was about to come open, he wouldn't have extended Halpin's lease. Emanuel offered Halpin a generous sum to opt out of the extended lease -- what Halpin would pay Emanuel in rent over six months -- but Halpin didn't budge. He runs his business out of the home, he explains; and besides, he has two children happily enrolled in a nearby school.
Here's where it gets really interesting: Halpin is considering running for mayor against Emanuel, his landlord.
As Halpin explained things Tuesday, he was simply minding his business one day--with scarcely a thought about stoking any more public confrontations with his famous landlord--when a nice gentleman dropped by to propose a mayoral run.
"I was approached by some businessmen who asked if I would be interested in running for mayor," Halpin told the Chicago Tribune. "And they explained to me why they thought I'd be a good candidate and a good mayor. ... It was Sunday. My children and I were watching the Chicago Bears. They asked if we could spend a few minutes talking about why I would be a good mayor."
If this sounds like a scene out of a Martin Scorsese movie to you, you're not alone. Most political observers believe that the "businessmen" who visited Halpin that day are political opponents of Emanuel from Chicago's South Side hoping to clip the Rahm candidacy by portraying him as a quintessential Washington outsider, trying to buy his way into power.
The Chicago Tribune's John Kass picks up the story from there:
I figure that the guys thinking about Halpin as a candidate aren't interested in his taste in cigars. They're interested because he's Rahm Emanuel's stubborn tenant. Halpin's the guy who's been renting Rahm's North Side home. When Rahm was about to leave the White House, he asked Halpin to move out. Amazingly, Halpin refused the Rahmfather.
Now Emanuel's campaign is expected to be challenged in the courts, a legal maneuver backed by guys on the South Side who are part of the stop-Rahm movement. And Halpin's talk of candidacy highlights the argument that Rahm is not a resident.
All this, and the mayoral campaign hasn't even officially started yet.
(Photo of Emanuel: Charles Dharapak/AP)