Rahm Emanuel's effort to prove his Chicago residency has taken a turn in his favor. A candidate for mayor must have "resided" in the city for a year prior to the election, and though Emanuel owned a Chicago home (with a crawl space full of his family's junk), kept his Chicago driver's license, and voted from Chicago, he lived in Washington, D.C., in 2009 and 2010 and only moved back in October to run for mayor. But a hearing officer, Joseph Morris, who has presided over the challenges to Emanuel's residency by his opponents, has suggested to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners that it's okay that Emanuel wasn't actually physically in Chicago.
Hearing officer Joseph Morris found that Emanuel did not abandon his Chicago residency by moving to Washington because Illinois law carves out exemptions for people in "service" to the U.S.
Morris wrote in his opinion, "The preponderance of the evidence established that the sole reason for the Candidate's absence from Chicago during 2009 and 2010 was by reason of attendance to business of the United States."
The decision now rests with the Board of Election Commissioners, composed of two Democrats and one Republican, and it may vote as soon as today on Emanuel's eligibility, although the Times cautions that among "political experts" the "issue is widely expected to be taken to court."
If Emanuel does ultimately manage to make it onto the ballot for the February 22 election, it should be smooth sailing from then on. Two recent polls show him leading his nearest competitor, former Chicago public schools chief Gery Chico, by between 23 and 32 points. Although in Chicago politics, you can't take for granted that getting the most votes will necessarily translate into winning.