The Illinois Supreme Court has cleared Rahm Emanuel to run for mayor of Chicago, just four days before early voting is set to begin.
Lifting a tsuris from Emanuel's shoulders, the state's highest court overturned a lower court's ruling earlier this week that Emanuel did not meet the residency requirement to serve as Chicago's mayor. Emanuel had lived in Washington, D.C. for two years, running President Obama's transition team and then serving as his chief of staff, before returning to Chicago to run for mayor at the beginning of October.
"We made it through this thanks to your tireless support," Emanuel wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "Now that the distractions are behind us, we can focus again on the issues and challenges that are really facing our city and our neighbors. And we can cast our votes."
Rival candidate Gery Chico, meanwhile, wrote to his supporters: "Emanuel's residency drama has made this election into a circus instead of a serious debate about the future of Chicago...With less than 30 days to go until Election Day, there is no time to waste. Game on."
The decision clears the way for Emanuel to participate in tonight's mayoral debate without a shadow hanging over him. It also saves him from uncertainty as early voting begins ahead of the Feb. 22 Election Day. Emanuel won't have to grovel at the feet of reporters and interest groups, either, with his candidacy firmly reestablished as legitimate.
All the fuss seems to have been for naught. As Emanuel led the last WGN/Chicago Tribune poll with 44 percent, he'll almost certainly remain the race's frontrunner and heavy favorite. Unless he gets 50 percent of the vote on Feb. 22, two candidates will advance to an April runoff.
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