CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere is dropping out of the crowded race for mayor, announcing he won’t be able to gather the 12,500 signatures needed to get on the ballot.

“In November of 2017, I was the first person to enter the 2019 race for mayor. Today, in November of 2018 it looks as if I will become the first candidate to exit the race,” LaRaviere stated on his campaign website.

Candidates can begin filing nominating papers with the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners on Monday, and have until Nov. 26 to file their petitions. With less than two weeks until that deadline, LaRaviere said it was clear he would not be able to gather enough signatures to survive a challenge from other candidates.

“It would require more money than we’ve been able to raise in an entire year. We would also require a massive influx of organized petitioners, just to give us a shot at reaching a signature threshold that would survive the aggressive challenge our petitions are going to get from political insiders from the more well-funded campaigns. Then, of course, there are the legal costs of defending ourselves from that legal challenge. So we will soon begin the process of winding down our campaign,” LaRaviere said.

An outspoken critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and top administrators at the Chicago Public Schools, LaRaviere resigned as principal of Blaine Elementary School in August 2016. His decision to step down came three months after he was elected as president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, and two months after CPS removed him from his post at Blaine amid allegations of misusing school equipment, and engaging in political activity during work hours.

LaRaviere has said the district’s attempt to fire him was political payback for his criticism of the mayor and CPS, and noted was named the best neighborhood school and the third-best public school in Chicago under his watch.

“I am proud to say that I entered this race when our current mayor was believed to be on his way to a third term. I’ve never backed down from a fight, even when it seemed impossible, even when I had everything to lose. Brave voices who were not afraid to speak truth to power are responsible for forcing the mayor from the race. I am proud to be one of them,” LaRaviere said.

At least 16 other candidates have announced they are running for mayor in 2019, including:

  • Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle,
  • former White House chief of staff and Commerce Secretary Bill Daley,
  • Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown,
  • former Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico,
  • former Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot,
  • former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy,
  • former CPS Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas,
  • attorney and policy consultant Amara Enyia,
  • Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford,
  • millionaire businessman Willie Wilson,
  • community activist Ja’Mal Green,
  • attorney Jeremiah Joyce Jr.,
  • former City Council candidate John Kozlar,
  • DePaul University student Matthew Roney,
  • tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin,
  • and perennial candidate William “Dock” Walls.

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who earlier this week was elected to a second term, also is expected to enter the race for mayor. Just days before the November election, a video of Mendoza announcing her bid for mayor was leaked to the press. Her re-election campaign acknowledged she was “considering a run for another office,” but insisted she had not made up her mind to run for mayor.