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The Illinois court of appeals ruled Monday morning that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel does not meet Chicago residency requirements and is therefore not eligible to run for mayor, the Chicago Tribune reports, but Emanuel says he will appeal the ruling to the state supreme court and believes he'll prevail.
The ruling overturns a December decision by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners that Emanuel had not forfeited his Chicago residency when he went to Washington, D.C., to work for President Obama in 2009. Two out of three judges on an appeals court panel, however, said he did not meet the requirement of living in Chicago for a year before the election, which will be in February. He resigned from his White House post in October.
At a press conference Monday afternoon in Chicago, Emanuel said, "I still own a home here, look forward to moving into it one day, vote from here, pay property taxes here. I do believe the people of the city of Chicago deserve a right to make a decision about who they want to be their next mayor." He said he will appeal the ruling "to the next level to get clarity" and has "no doubt at the end we'll prevail in this effort." He added that he would seek an injunction of the appellate court's decision so his name would remain on the ballot.
Emanuel has both supporters and detractors among Chicago's large and politically active gay population. He and other candidates, including former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun, former Chicago schools chief Gery Chico, and city clerk Miguel Del Valle, have courted the gay vote.
Some gay activists have doubts about Emanuel because they believe he encouraged Obama to go slowly in addressing LGBT issues and because of his record as an aide to President Clinton during the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act and "don't ask, don't tell." Supporters point to his pro-gay record as a three-term congressman and his work for Obama's gay-friendly initiatives, including an order to allow hospital visitation by patients' same-sex partners.
The nonpartisan election to replace retiring mayor Richard M. Daley will be February 22, with a runoff April 5 if no candidate wins a majority. A recent poll by the Tribune and broadcaster WGN showed Emanuel in the lead, with 44% favoring him for mayor, 21% for Braun, 16% for Chico, 7% for Del Valle, and the remainder either undecided or supporting various lesser-known candidates.