Rahm Emanuel's well-oiled campaign for mayor of Chicago took a big blow today, as a three-judge appellate court panel ruled that Emanuel may not be listed on next month's municipal elections ballot.
Rahm Emanuel's bid for mayor of Chicago just got a whole lot more complicated -- a state appellate court panel has ruled that Emanuel fails to meet the minimum residency rules under state law to be listed on the city's February 22 election ballot.
"[T]he 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 wrote in the 2-1 ruling (PDF).
Today's ruling overturns decisions from the Chicago Board of Commissioners as well as a Cook County Circuit Court judge that agreed with the Emanuel camp's contention that the ex-White House Chief of Staff was eligible for inclusion on the ballot. Emanuel's attorneys argued that though their candidate lived in Washington, D.C. for much of the 2009-2010 period, he never abandoned his home in Chicago and always intended to return here.
Broadly speaking, the decision upends -- at least momentarily -- a mayoral race that was seen by many as inexorably trending toward Emanuel. His lead in the fund raising department is substantial, and he more than doubled his closest rival, Carol Moseley Braun, in the last citywide poll.
The first round of voting in Chicago's municipal elections is less than a month away, scheduled for February 22. Early voting in the contest, however, begins January 31. A spokesman for the board of elections could not immediately be reached for comment.
Other news outlets have reported that one of Emanuel's attorneys in the case called the ruling a surprise. An appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court by the Emanuel camp is currently being prepped.
Emanuel is scheduled to speak to the media today at 1:30 p.m. in the Loop. And his campaign recently posted this to his Twitter account: "Today at 5: meet at the Chicago BOE to rally for Rahm's right 2 b on the ballot and let Chicagoans choose. Dearborn/Washington, 5 pm."
We'll have much more on this case as events unfold. Stay tuned to this page for frequent updates and analysis.
UPDATE 1 (1:27 p.m.): Miguel del Valle's mayoral campaign has released the following statement: "It looked like money was going to decide this election. The voters now have a rare opportunity to shape this city’s future."
UPDATE 2 (1:30 p.m.): Gery Chico spokeswoman Brooke Anderson writes this in an email: "From day one, Gery Chico's campaign has been about putting Chicagoans back to work, making our neighborhoods safer and giving our children the education they deserve. Today's news is a surprise but it will not impact how we run our campaign. Gery will continue to work for every vote and lay out his plans to take Chicago in a whole new direction."
UPDATE 3 (1:34 p.m.): Ben Smith of Politico tweeted a comment from an Illinois lawyer who told him, "The Supreme Court is absolutely loathe to overturn an appellate court decision."
UPDATE 4 (1:54 p.m.): Emanuel will appeal the ruling today to the Illinois Supreme Court. But Burt Odelson, the attorney who represented those objecting to Emanuel's candidacy, said the former White House chief of staff may have another option. Speaking to WLS following today's news, Odelson said, "He could stage a write-in campaign. ... It's been done before. In fact, I represented a candidate who ran successfully in the primary for mayor of Chicago on the Republican ticket as a write-in."
UPDATE 5 (2:00 p.m.): Gapers Block political editor Ramsin Canon points out on Twitter that Justice Bertina Lampkin "forcefully criticizes" the majority opinion in her dissent in Emanuel's residency case. Lampkin, Canon notes "is extremely aggressive near to the point of incivility in [her] dissent. Majority 'speculates', 'imagines' 'attacks.'"
UPDATE 6 (2:16 p.m.): Here a clip from Emanuel's press conference today at the Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago's Loop. "I have no doubt we will in the end prevail in this effort," he said. Take a look:
Stay tuned for more from today's press conference and other updates in a bit.
UPDATE 7 (2:39 p.m.): With early voting in Chicago set to begin in one week, the Ward Room tweets a comment from the chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections, Landgon Neal: "We're going to press with one less candidate for mayor."
UPDATE 8 (2:48 p.m.): Here's another clip from Emanuel's presser today at the Berghoff:
Note the that first question he responds to concerns the ballot printing issue. The city's elections board is going ahead with printing them, but Emanuel says above, "My attorneys will deal with that, address that ... to get my name printed on the ballot."
UPDATE 9 (3:18 p.m.): Over at Politico, Ben Smith writes that, according to an Illinois election attorney, Emanuel's chances as a write-in candidate are not a "viable alternative." Andy Raucci told Smith, "You will have had a determination that he's not eligible."