Chicago panel ready to decide if Emanuel on ballot

A city elections panel is expected to decide Thursday whether former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's name will appear on the February ballot in the race to replace retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley, after scores of people challenged his candidacy.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners has been reviewing transcripts and evidence from a marathon three-day hearing last week involving more than two dozen challenges to Emanuel's residency from people who say he doesn't have a legal right to run because he lived in Washington for nearly two years while working for President Barack Obama.

Emanuel, who quit his job and returned to Chicago in October to run for mayor just weeks after Daley said he wouldn't seek a seventh term, contends he didn't forfeit his residency because he still owns a home in Chicago, pays property taxes and votes in the city.

The hearing officer who oversaw the proceedings was expected to make a nonbinding recommendation to the panel on Wednesday, but hadn't done so by early evening. A person who answered the phone at the attorney Joseph Morris' office said Morris still was working but didn't know if a recommendation would be made Wednesday night.

Nevertheless, the board — two Democrats and one Republican — was prepared to make a decision Thursday, with or without a recommendation, said James Allen, spokesman for the election commissioners. A spokesman for Emanuel did not return a phone message from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Officials have tried to expedite mayoral ballot challenges before the Feb. 22 vote, and the board's decision is almost sure to be challenged in the courts.

“The hearing officer is sort of like an Italian traffic signal — it's a mere suggestion. He is basically giving his opinion,” said Paul Green, a political scientist at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Even so, a favorable ruling from the panel would clear a major hurdle in Emanuel's bid to be Chicago mayor and could help him silence critics who have persistently argued he didn't meet a one-year residency requirement.

Emanuel, a former congressman from Chicago's North Side, said he only moved his family to Washington because he couldn't turn down Obama's offer to be chief of staff. Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, and the couple's three children still live in Washington and will remain there until the end of the school year.

But objectors said he wasn't a resident partly because he rented out his house when his family joined him in Washington in the summer of 2009.

Emanuel said he leased his home for safety and security reasons, but left behind many prized family possessions, including his wife's wedding dress — further proof he always intended to return to Chicago, he and his lawyers argued.

Emanuel tried to move back into his house when he returned to Chicago but the family renting it wanted $100,000 to break the lease and move out early. The tenant, businessman Rob Halpin, later filed paperwork to run for mayor against Emanuel, only to withdraw from the race a short time later.

More than a dozen candidates are vying to replace Daley, including former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, former school board president Gery Chico, City Clerk Miguel del Valle and state Sen. James Meeks, the pastor of a South Side megachurch.

But since returning to Chicago, Emanuel has enjoyed strong name recognition, running several TV ads and faring well in a recent Chicago Tribune/WGN poll that showed him as the only candidate in double digits — with more than 30 percent support, although 30 percent remained undecided.

newsPoliticsUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Officer Nicholas Buckley, pictured here in 2014, is now working out of Bayview Station. <ins>(Department of Police Accountability records)</ins>
SF police return officer to patrol despite false testimony

A San Francisco police officer accused of fabricating a reason for arresting… Continue reading

Riordan Crusaders versus St. Ignatius Wildcats at JB Murphy Field on the St. Ignatius Prepatory High School Campus on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)
State allows high school sports to resume, but fight is far from over

For the first time since mid-March 2020, there is hope for high… Continue reading

A nurse draws up a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Mission neighborhood COVID-19 vaccine site on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF expands vaccine eligiblity, but appointments ‘limited’

San Francisco expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday but appointments remain limited… Continue reading

The now-shuttered Cliff House restaurant overlooks Ocean Beach people at Ocean Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
History buffs working to keep Cliff House collection in public view

Funds needed to buy up historic building’s contents at auction

Perceived supply and demand in the Bay Area’s expensive rental market can play a big part in determining what people pay. (Shutterstock)
Bay Area rental market is rebounding — but why?

Hearing about people leaving town can have as big an effect as actual economic factors

Most Read