Rahm-O-Rama: Emanuel Off Chicago Ballot

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Rahm Emanuel was ruled ineligible today to run for mayor of Chicago due to questions around his status as a resident of the city after serving in the White House for almost two years. With over 10 million dollars raised and his poll numbers far ahead of his opponents, Emanuel was the clear favorite in the bid for mayor. In December Emanuel spent 12 hours testifying in front of the Chicago Board of Elections--chronicled in this Wire post--after issues arose around the leasing of his home in September 2009. Local law requires that mayoral candidates be city residents for a full year before the February election. Even the conservative Chicago Tribune had weighed in on Emanuel's side at the time ("We're confident the board and the courts will find that the law is on Emanuel's side....His name belongs on the ballot,") but questions may have been raised after Lori Halpin and her husband--who had leased Emanuel's house--refused to let Emmanuel break their agreement and move back in. Was the ruling legitimate? A case of judiciary pedantry? A study in hardball tactics from a political opponent? Welcome to the dark and convoluted world of Chicago politics.

  • He Doesn't Meet Residency Code, say the two judges ruling in the majority, Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall. "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," they write in their opinion. "Accordingly, we disagree with the Board’s conclusion that he is eligible to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Chicago."
  • A Break From The Judicial Standard?  "The majority promulgates a new and undefined standard for determining candidate residency requirements despite the plethora of clear, relevant and well-established precedent that has been used by our circuit courts and election boards for decades," asserts the lone dissenting judge, Bertina Lampkin.
  • Let's Not Forget What City We're Talking About, reminds Alex Pareene at Salon. "I'm no huge fan of Emanuel," he says, but "Rahm Emanuel himself is now the victim of genuine 'Chicago-style politics,' just as it exists in the fevered imaginations of conservative bloggers. Getting your opponents thrown off the ballot is a time-honored Chicago tradition, and if you can't out-fundraise Emanuel (and no one can), your best hope is to disqualify him. The attorney waging war on Emanuel, Burt Odelson, "represents" two voters, but no one is positive who actually set him loose on Emanuel."
  • Has Rahm Lost His Edge? wonders Kathleen McCaffrey at Legal Insurrection. "Has he lost his political capital without his title in the Obama administration? Was he blamed for any of the political backlash towards the administration?"
  • Was It Chicago's Old-School Pols? According to Frank James at NPR.org, "[Emanuel's] return to Chicago had caused resentment among politicians who saw the imminent retirement of long-time Mayor Richard M. Daley as their chance to gain an office that had been essentially out of play for decades."

  • This Is Only the Begining, writes David Weigel on Slate. "The state Supreme Court, which consists of four Democrats and three Republicans, can hear the case" again, he notes. "Even if his campaign makes it on the ballot again, this creates a problem logistically for election officials, and a problem in the race as candidates proceed with the assumption they will not face him."

Recommended Reading

  • Was It a Fellow Democrat?  Chuck Sudo at the Chicagoist wonders if local politician Joseph Berrios is somehow connected to it all.
One of the attorneys assisting Odelson in the Emanuel residency challenge is Tom Jaconetty, who just happens to be a top aide for Cook County Assessor and Democratic Party chairman Joe Berrios. During the election, Emanuel opted not to support the Democrat ... As we've seen, Berrios has a petty streak, to say the least. From suing the Better Government Association for bringing his actions on the County Board of Review to the public, to firing Assessor's office workers hired by his predecessor Jim Houlihan, to offering veiled threats that 47th Ward Alderman Gene Schulter will get his for supporting Claypool...Berrios has been acting like a Hispanic Boss Tweed. Would it be out of the realm of possibility for Berrios and Jaconetty to be colluding against Emanuel? Well, both have denied it. But Odelson is getting paid from someone and Chicago politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows.

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