Is Rahm Even Eligible to Run in Chicago?

Scenes from Chicago's political circus

This article is from the archive of our partner .

As part of a weeklong event the Chicago Tribune has dubbed "Rahmfest," Rahm Emanuel spent 12 hours testifying on Tuesday before the Chicago Board of Elections to determine if he meets the city's residency requirement to run for mayor. Emanuel has spent the last eight years as an Illinois Congressman and, more recently, as President Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff. Emanuel announced his candidacy for the mayoralty in November, two months after he abruptly left his White House job. Chicago law requires that any candidate be a city resident for a full year before the February election--and as the Wire noted back in September, that might be a problem for Emanuel. Here's what people are saying about the hearing and Emanuel's eligibility.

  • 'The Law is On Emanuel's Side'  The Chicago Tribune declares: "We're confident the board and the courts will find that the law is on Emanuel's side. It should be up to the voters of Chicago to decide if they want Emanuel to be mayor. His name belongs on the ballot."
[Emanuel] found himself in a packed basement meeting room here, required to answer--under oath--a long day of fierce, pointed, personal, sometimes peculiar questions from Chicagoans who believe he should not be allowed to run for mayor. ... The hearing was presided over by an election board official and conducted in a format similar to that of a trial (objections and all), but it often did not look like one. Some among the 30 Chicagoans who have filed formal challenges to Mr. Emanuel’s candidacy groaned loudly at some of his comments (“yeah, right!”), shot homemade videos of the proceedings and were permitted to pose their own, not-always-lawyerly, often meandering questions.
  • Big Event Today: Rahm's Tenant Testifies  The Associated Press reports that Lori Halpin, who recently rented Emanuel's Chicago house from him, will testify today before the Board of Elections. Those challenging Emanuel's candidacy say that he can't be considered a resident for a full year because he didn't have full access to a Chicago address during the time that Halpin was renting his house. The A.P. adds, "Halpin and her husband made headlines when they refused Emanuel's request to break the lease on the house so Emanuel could move back in."
Q. Isn’t this just Emanuel’s opponents exploiting Illinois’ strict election laws to try to “deny voters choices” as Emanuel’s supporters have argued.
A. Yes. It’s a storied tradition. In 2004, Emanuel used a ballot challenge to try to oust his primary opponent for Congress. President Obama won his first election the same way, using ballot challenges to knock all his opponents for state Senate off the ballot and win by default.

One woman attending the hearing announced loudly she had heard enough when one of Emanuel's questioners asked how often he had visited the city in the past year.

"Boo, boo," the woman shouted. "You are making a circus of state law. Your hearing is out of order," she said before being escorted out.

"The nuthouse is open," another woman commented.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.