Election Law

Ex-Obama Aide Remained a Chicago Resident, Stays on Ballot for Mayor's Race, Judge Rules

Asked to overturn an administrative ruling that determined the former White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama remained a resident of Chicago while he worked in the nation’s capital and hence is qualified to run for election as the city’s mayor, a state-court judge in Illinois has instead reached the same conclusion.

Rahm Emanuel never gave up the home he owned in Chicago, even though he rented it to a tenant, and continued to act in a manner that supported his intention to return there eventually. Hence, he remained a resident of Chicago and should stay on the ballot for the February primary election, ruled Judge Mark Ballard today in the Cook County case, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Clout Street blog.

Although objectors to Emanuel’s candidacy argued that the one-year residency requirement for mayoral candidates should be interpreted literally, Emanuel’s lawyers contended that residency is a state of mind rather than having a place to sleep in the city.

Attorney Burt Odelson represents a group that objects to having Emanuel on the ballot and says his clients plan to appeal tomorrow on an expedited basis.

While both Ballard and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners have ruled against their argument, a reversal of fortune on appeal is entirely possible, he points out.

“All election lawyers go through that,” Odelson says. “You lose below and you win above, or you win below and you lose above.”

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