Rahm Emanuel should not appear on the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot because he does not meet the residency standard, according to a ruling issued by a state appellate court today.
Emanuel told a news conference he would appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court and would ask for an injunction so his name will appear on the mayoral ballot.
“I have no doubt at the end we’ll prevail in this effort,” Emanuel said. “We’ll now go to the next level to get clarity.”
In a 2-1 ruling, the appellate panel said Emanuel does not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Chicago for a year prior to the election. The judges reversed a decision by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, which had unanimously agreed that Emanuel was eligible to run for mayor. (Read the ruling here.)
“We conclude that the candidate neither meets the Municipal Code’s requirement that he have ‘resided in’ Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement,” the majority judges wrote.
“Accordingly, we disagree with the Board’s conclusion that he is eligible to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Chicago. We reverse the circuit court’s judgment confirming the Board’s decision, set aside the Board’s decision and … order that the candidate’s name be excluded (or, if necessary, removed) from the ballot.”
The majority opinion was written by Appellate Justice Thomas E. Hoffman and concurred with by Presiding Appellate Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall.
Appellate Justice Bertina E. Lampkin wrote a dissenting opinion.
“I disagree with the majority’s contrary conclusion that the candidate is not eligible to be on the ballot because that conclusion is based on an analysis of two issues — establishing residency and a statutory exemption to the residency requirement — that are not relevant to the resolution of this case.”
Emanuel said he meets requirements despite moving to Washington, D.C. to serve as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff.
“Fundamentally, when a president asks you to serve the country as his chief of staff, you do it,” Emanuel said.
Time is of the essence. Early voting starts a week from today on Jan. 31. An elections board spokesman said ballots have not been printed yet but are scheduled to be printed mid-week.
Later, Langdon D. Neal, the elections board chairman, issued a statement: “We’re going to press with one less candidate for mayor.”
Emanuel is the front-running candidate in the race to succeed Mayor Richard Daley. The latest Tribune poll showed Emanuel at 44 percent, more than double his closest rival, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.
Opponents say Emanuel doesn’t meet the one-year residency requirement because of his stay in Washington. Before today, Emanuel had won rulings by the election board and in Cook County Circuit Court.
Chicago mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle said the ruling bodes well for the other candidates in the race.
Even if the decision is overturned by the state Supreme Court, voters in the meantime will have to seriously consider other candidates, he said.
The city clerk said many people thought Emanuel’s victory was a “foregone conclusion” because of the amount of money Emanuel has raised.
Another candidate, Gery Chico, told reporters he was very surprised by the ruling and said he has never made Emanuel’s residency a campaign issue.
“I believe in ballot access,” Chico said outside a fundraiser at a River North restaurant shortly after the ruling. “We will continue vigorously with our campaign, with or without Rahm Emanuel.”
Chico sidestepped questions about whether he was happy for the development. “I’ve said from Day One of this campaign that I haven’t paid much attention to who’s on or who’s off, who’s in the race.”
When asked whether Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke should recuse herself from the case because of Chico’s longstanding ties with her husband, Ald. Ed Burke, Chico shook his head, and said it was not an appropriate question for him to consider.
“I’m a candidate for mayor. I don’t tell the Illinois Supreme Court what to do,” he said.
Emanuel, a former North Side congressman, had served Obama in Washington from January 2009 until October. When he left for the White House, Emanuel rented his North Side home to Rob Halpin.
Halpin refused to move out when Emanuel returned to Chicago and briefly staged his own run for mayor.
Halpin applauded the ruling. “Now I feel vindicated by the court,” Halpin told WGN-AM radio.
Residency, Halpin said, is “one of the rights that goes with the rent payment.”
Halpin said “it’s very clear that only one resident” could be attached to a single residence, “unless it was some sort of hippie commune.”
Contributing: WGN-720, Associated Press