Rahm Emanuel, who left Chicago to join the Obama administration as White House chief of staff, should not appear on the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot in the city because he does not meet the residency standard, according to a ruling issued by a state appellate court Monday.
Emanuel told a news conference he would appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court and would ask for an injunction so his name would 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.”
Emanuel, a former congressman, has been the front-running candidate in the race to succeed retiring Mayor Richard Daley. The latest poll by the Chicago Tribune showed Emanuel at 44%, more than double his closest rival, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.
In a 2-1 ruling Monday, 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.
“We conclude that the candidate neither meets the [Illinois] 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.
Emanuel said he meets requirements despite moving to Washington, D.C.. He served as President Obama’s White House chief of staff until October.
“Fundamentally, when a president asks you to serve the country as his chief of staff, you do it,” Emanuel said.
The municipal code exempts from residency requirements members of the military who serve away from home. State election code also includes a government service exemption that protects the residency status of anyone who temporarily leaves “on business of the United States.”
Early voting begins Jan. 31. An elections board spokesman said ballots are scheduled to be printed midweek.
Later, Langdon D. Neal, the elections board chairman, issued a statement: “We’re going to press with one less candidate for mayor.”
Elections board spokesman Jim Allen said ballots would be printed Monday night.
“We’ve basically hit the ‘go’ button,” Allen said. “We needed to do this on the 18th. We were waiting for this decision. We are going to press now; we have to.”
“A candidate who is removed from the ballots by the courts has until Feb. 15 to file as a write-in,” Allen said.