WH Official: Obama Believes Rahm Is Eligible to Run for Chicago Mayor

Tuesday, 25 Jan 2011 02:20 PM

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President Barack Obama believes former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is eligible to run for mayor of Chicago despite a state appellate court ruling, says a top White House official. Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett’s comment on ABC this morning injects the president into an ongoing legal dispute that ultimately may determine the Windy City’s mayoral election.

Valerie Jarrett, White House, Obama, Rahm Emanuel
Adviser Valerie Jarrett
"Well, I think that (Obama) believes that he’s eligible, and I believe that he believes that Rahm will pursue his appeal in the courts and, as he said he thinks Rahm will make a terrific mayor,” she said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Jarrett is one of Obama’s top advisers, collectively known as the Chicago mafia, he brought to the White House following his 2008 victory. Emanuel, also a member of that select group, is a Chicago native known for his partisanship and willingness to play hard ball. The former congressman was viewed widely as the mayoral front-runner, raising a reported $10 million and posting double-digit leads in polls.

Nonetheless, a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court held 2-1 Monday that Emanuel does not meet the requirements to run for mayor because he has not lived in the city for the past year. The judges ruled him ineligible for the Feb. 22 election.

Judges Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall wrote in their ruling: "A candidate . . . must have actually resided within the municipality for one year prior to the election, a qualification that the candidate unquestionably does not satisfy," The Washington Post reported.

Attorneys for Emanuel, who have filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court, had argued that state law allowed an absence if the person involved had been conducting the "business of the United States," the Post reported.

During the ABC interview, Jarrett said: "We haven't talked to Rahm, but I’ll tell you one thing we know is that he’s going to vigorously appeal. Rahm is a fighter and, as you know, he will be appealing to the Supreme Court and I’m sure he will vigorously make that case."

And it looks like he's bought some time to argue the case, as the Illinois Supreme Court ordered election officials today not to print any mayoral ballots without Emanuel's name while the justices consider whether to hear his appeal.

The Chicago Board of Elections had said it would begin printing ballots without his name as early as Tuesday, with the election less than a month away. Absentee ballots were to be sent out within days. Today's court ruling puts those actions on hold.

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