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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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No, there is no 'Hal O. Newman' running for Rochester mayor

No, there is no 'Hal O. Newman' running for Rochester mayor

Over the past few days, you may have come across reports about a new candidate — Hal O. Newman — entering the race for Rochester mayor. 

It turns out, however, there is no "Hal O. Newman."

Except in episodes of Seinfeld.

It appears that two local news organizations — KTTC and KROC — were duped by a prankster posing as a mayoral candidate. 

On Friday, local media outlets were sent a press release by an individual claiming to be Mr. Newman, a retired postal service worker who wanted us to "remember to stop in on our neighbors and remind them we are here.”

The sender did not respond to follow-up messages. But as social media users pointed out, the candidate's name was eerily similar to a line delivered by Jerry Seinfeld in his hit comedy series. Further, the release listed the southeast Rochester post office as the candidate's address, and named "restauranteur Larry Thomas" the candidate's campaign manager. Larry Thomas is the name of an actor who played the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.

Making the supposed candidacy even more questionable was the photo used. An online search shows, as the Post-Bulletin noted, that the image submitted by the "candidate" was of cable TV host and career coach Pat Pattison.

KROC later deleted its article, while KTTC updated the online version of the story to acknowledge that "someone seems to be attempting to pull the wool over everyone's eyes." On Saturday, the Rochester Beet, a local satirical publication, offered its formal endorsement of "Hal O. Newman."

So, what lessons should we take away from this?

1. Journalists should always follow up with unknown sources.

2. Google is readily available.

3. Seinfeld will always remain relevant. 

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