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Rahm Emanuel ruling: big setback at a crucial time in Chicago mayor's race

Rahm Emanuel does not meet the residency requirements to run for Chicago mayor Feb. 22, an Illinois appeals court panel rules. Rahm Emanuel will appeal to the state supreme court, but a verdict in his favor is hardly assured.

By Staff writer / January 24, 2011

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel speaks at a news conference in Chicago Monday, after an Illinois appeals court threw the former White House chief of staff off the ballot for Chicago mayor because he didn't live in the city in the year before the election.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

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Chicago

Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago mayoral campaign hit a major hurdle Monday with a 2-to-1 ruling by an Illinois appeals court that his name cannot appear on the ballot for the Feb. 22 election since he does not meet the residency standard for the office.

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The ruling reverses the unanimous decision of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners that Mr. Emanuel does meet the residency requirements. Emanuel will appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court and ask for an injunction to keep his name on the ballot.

He leads his closest opponent by more than 20 points in the latest Chicago Tribune poll and holds a huge fundraising advantage.

"I have no doubt at the end we'll prevail in this effort," Emanuel said in a news conference. “We’ll now go to the next level to get clarity."

"I do believe the people of the city of Chicago deserve a right to make a decision about who they want to be their next mayor," he added.

But there’s no certainty of how the state’s Supreme Court – if it takes the case – will rule, and even if he does get his name reinstated, Emanuel will have lost valuable weeks of campaigning.

“It ties up the Emanuel campaign for the next couple weeks” even if the Supreme Court reverses the decision, notes Dick Simpson, a political scientist at the University of Illinois in Chicago. “And it raises questions in the minds of voters over whether Emanuel is really a Chicagoan,” regardless of how the legal case is decided.

“It’s a great opportunity for the other candidates, and it means [Emanuel’s] $10 million isn’t very useful at the moment,” he adds.

A huge lead

Emanuel, until recently President Obama’s chief of staff, has been the overwhelming front-runner in the election. In the Tribune poll, he was the choice of 44 percent of respondents – more than double that of former US Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

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