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Rahm steers clear of Bloomberg-Halvorson controversy in 2nd District

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday steered clear of the political controversy surrounding New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to target Democrat Debbie Halvorson in the race to succeed Jesse Jackson Jr.

Independence USA, a Bloomberg-funded super PAC formed to push gun control legislation, is running television commercials on free TV and cable urging 2nd District voters to "watch out" for Halvorson because of her past support from the National Rifle Association.

"When she was in Congress before, Halvorson got an A from the NRA. The NRA: against comprehensive background checks, against banning deadly assault weapons, against banning high-capacity ammunition clips," the commercial states.

Emanuel and Bloomberg are longtime political allies. But unlike Bloomberg, Emanuel is remaining neutral in the crowded 2nd District Democratic primary to replace Jackson, who resigned in later November.

On Wednesday, Emanuel was asked whether Bloomberg consulted him before sticking his nose in the 2nd District.

"No. There's not a secret handshake between mayors," Emanuel joked.

Pressed on whether he believes it was appropriate for Bloomberg to stick get involved in a contested Democratic primary in Illinois, Emanuel said, "That's a whole `nother discussion about our campaign finance laws and what happens here. Put that aside."

The mayor then insisted he's staying on the fence in the 2nd District. Not with a wink-and-a-nod while helping one of the candidates behind-the-scenes, as Richard M. Daley often did. But, really neutral.

"I have one view which is, whoever gets elected is on Team Chicago and has to be a person committed to helping us," he said.

"There will be plenty of time for the voters to decide what to do, who they want to represent them. I have a job to do...That's gonna be where I spend my time and my resources and my energy."

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