‘We will prevail,’ Rahm says after booted off ballot
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters January 24, 2011 12:10PM
Rahm Emanuel meets the media at the Berghoff, 17 W. Adams, to react to the Illinois Appellate Court overturning a decision regarding his Chicago residency. The court ruled that he is ineligible to be in the mayoral race in Chicago. Monday, January 24 2011
Rahm Emanuel Timeline
October 1, 2010, Rahm Emanuel resigns his post as White House Chief of Staff to run for Mayor of Chicago.
November 13, 2010, Emanuel formally announces his candidacy for mayor of Chicago.
December 23, 2010, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners rule that Emanuel is a Chicago resident and therefore can run for mayor.
January 4, 2011, A Cook County judge seconds the Chicago Board of Elections’ decision that Emanuel should stay on the ballot.
January 24, 2011, An appellate court panel ruled 2-1 that Emanuel did not meet the residency standard to run for mayor.
Updated: February 16, 2012 10:34AM
Rahm Emanuel was thrown off the ballot for mayor of Chicago Monday by an appellate court panel. But Emanuel — who has led the other candidates in fund-raising and in public opinion polls — cautioned he won’t get off the ballot without a fight.
“I have no doubt, at the end we will prevail at this effort,” Emanuel told reporters at the Berghoff Restaurant.
The Chicago Board of Elections planned to start printing ballots without Emanuel’s name unless Emanuel’s lawyers can get a “stay” of the appellate court ruling. Emanuel’s lawyers filed their request for a stay just before 5 p.m. Monday.
“We ... order that the candidate’s name be excluded (or if, necessary, be removed) from the ballot,” Judge Thomas Hoffman wrote in the opinion upholding the requirement under the state’s municipal code that candidates for mayor in Illinois must have “resided in” the town where they are running for a year before Election Day — in this case Feb. 22. Hoffman was joined by Justice Shelvin Marie Louise Hall.
Judge Bertina Lampkin wrote a muscular dissent, saying, “An opinion of such wide-ranging import and not based on established law but, rather, on the whims of two judges, should not be allowed to stand.”
Emanuel attorney Mike Kasper said he plans to use that dissent to try to convince the state Supreme Court to take the case and reinstate Emanuel to the ballot. He expects to file the appeal on Tuesday.
The motion for a stay borrowed heavily from the dissent and criticized the majority’s “cavalier dismissal of Supreme Court precedent.”
More than 100 Emanuel supporters demonstrated outside the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners’ office Monday night for Emanuel’s right to appear on the ballot.
In 2004, Kasper, the same lawyer trying to keep Emanuel on the ballot for this election, was arguing to bounce one of Emanuel’s opponents for his congressional seat, off the ballot.
In the mayoral race, Emanuel argued that leaving Chicago to serve the president as chief of staff counts as “business of the United States” and so he should not lose his residency status.
But Hoffman and Hall agreed with attorney Burt Odelson that the “business of the United States” exemption applies to Emanuel’s right to vote — not his right to run for mayor.
Chicago’s bar associations have always rated Justice Hoffman as one of the most knowledgeable judges on the appellate court. He has published numerous books, and other judges often cite his opinions.
He dominated the questioning at oral arguments Wednesday, pressing Emanuel’s attorneys hard on whether Emanuel could really “dwell conceptually” in a house he could not enter because he had rented it out. Emanuel’s tenants refused to end the lease early after Mayor Daley announced he would not seek re-election, and Emanuel decided to move back to Chicago to run for mayor.
The renter, Rob Halpin, briefly ran for mayor himself.
“We’re hoping you can still be in this,” one young female bowler told Emanuel as he shook hands at Waveland Bowl Monday night.
Emanuel said he has gotten that reception from voters all over town today.
“That’s further incentive for me to see this through. In politics, you never give up. You never give in.”
Emanuel had won two previous rulings — before the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and a Cook County judge. The case was appealed to the appellate court, which handed down the ruling before noon Monday.
Emanuel’s attorneys had argued that state election code, which covers eligibility to vote, should also count toward eligibility to run for mayor. However, Justice Hoffman wrote: “neither the [election] board nor the party have, however, referred us to any Supreme Court opinion ratifying, adopting or directly addressing this approach.”
Odelson noted that the Supreme Court may decide that Hoffman so thoroughly addressed the legal issues in his opinion, that the Supreme Court may not even take the case.
However, Odelson said he may not oppose Kasper’s request to have the Supreme Court hear the case because this is an important enough issue that the state’s highest court should probably weigh in.
Emanuel’s opponents in the race — including Gery Chico, Carol Moseley Braun and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins — quickly scheduled afternoon news conferences to react to the news.
Chico is expected to announce the endorsement of the Chicago Firefighters’ Union today.
Braun appealed to Emanuel supporters and undecided voters to join her “little United Nations” of a campaign by logging onto her website and either by donating their money or volunteering their time.
In other words, she expects the Appellate Court ruling to stand.
“I can only go with what the Court of Appeals said,” Braun said. “I’m a great believer in the rule of law. I believe the Court has spoken, and unless and until they change their mind, that’s the law of the land,”
Braun was joined at her news conference by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)
“I’m hoping that supporters of Mr. Emanuel [and] people who are undecided will choose to join our coalition of conscience, will choose to embrace the message that we have been consistently trying to bring to this city,” she said.
After raising just over $450,000 to Emanuel’s $11.7 million and Chico’s $2.5 million, Braun has cut two campaign commercials she cannot afford to air. She’s hoping Monday’s ruling will trigger a cash infusion.
“We’ve always had a poor campaign with a rich message,” she said. “While we hope that it will be less poor [with Emanuel out of the race], our message is consistent and the same — that I have the ability to deliver for all the people of Chicago to help move our city in the right direction.”
If Emanuel remains off the ballot, Braun was asked whether she’s concerned that the city’s business establishment would flock to Chico, who has served Mayor Daley as chief of staff, school board president, park board president and City Colleges board chairman.
“I’m hopeful that the business community will recognize how hard I worked for them when I was United States senator and the relationships that I can bring — that I can continue to move this city in the direction of being a world-class city,” she said. “It’s not like I’m a stranger to these people. I’ve worked for them and I’ve delivered for them as senator and I look forward to the opportunity to work with them again.”
Chico has taken pains to steer clear of the residency challenge and publicly support Emanuel’s right to run for mayor. He did the same after Monday’s ruling.
After a lunch hour fund-raiser at Moe’s Cantina in River North, Chico said that the appellate court’s decision to boot Emmanuel from the ballot did not change anything about his campaign.
“I was as surprised as anyone today to hear about the decision of the appellate court. I have believed in ballot access. I have never challenged anyone before.”
“We will continue vigorously with our campaign with or without Rahm Emanuel.”
Chico said he was “agnostic” about the court’s decision. He sidestepped a question about whether he was not the front runner.
“I mean I’m running,” he said. “I’m trying to get every vote I can from everybody in this city.”
Would you ask Rahm for his support if he doesn’t get back on the ballot?
“I’d love his support.
Mayoral hopeful Miguel Del Valle, in a statement, brought up the $11.7 million that Emanuel has collected to bankroll a mayoral campaign that has now been thrust into legal limbo.
“It looked like money was going to decide this election,” del Valle said. “The voters now have a rare opportunity to shape this city’s future.”
In an interview, del Valle, the current City Clerk, said he expects the Supreme Court to take the case, overturn the Appellate Court ruling and put Emanuel back on the ballot where he belongs.
But he said, “The political effect of this decision is that some of the voters out there who thought this election was a foregone conclusion will now take a first or second look at the other candidates. That’s good for Chicago.
“Rahm Emanuel has amassed an obscene amount of money, and it’s not right. Gery Chico’s fund-raising from individuals doing business with the city is not right. ... This election should be decided by people in the neighborhoods, not by multi-millionaires — both in Chicago and out of state — who thought they had already bought this election.”
If Chico inherits much of Emanuel’s support, pressure would intensify for del Valle to drop out of the race. But the retiring City Clerk bristled at the suggestion that he should throw his support to Chico, the only other Hispanic in the race.
“I am a candidate who has a lot to offer. Why should [I]? It never crossed my mind. Not at all,” del Valle said. “This election is a wonderful opportunity to present voters with real choices. Why would I deny [them] that? That’s why I thought the residency issue was a distraction and that voters should have choices, including Rahm Emanuel.”
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), Daley’s City Council floor leader, is among a handful of North Side ward bosses firmly in Emanuel’s camp. If the Supreme Court affirms Monday’s ruling or takes a pass, O’Connor would be like a man without a country.
“It puts me where I’ve always been. I’ve supported Rahm since he announced. I’ll support him until it’s determined he can no longer be a mayoral candidate,” O’Connor said.
Pressed to identify his second choice, O’Connor said, “I wouldn’t even speculate on that. I’m hoping he’s on the ballot and it works out. If not, we’ll reassess and see who’ll have us. If the polls are correct, Gery Chico and Carol Moseley Braun are pretty close. I don’t know who would become the frontrunner. But, I’m not quite certain I’m giving up on our current frontrunner.”
Another ward boss, who asked to remain anonymous, predicted that Chico would be the “primary beneficiary” if Emanuel is knocked off the ballot.
“If you were for Rahm, he’s kind of a business-like person who can get things done. Gery is a similar personality. He’s more like Rahm than Carol is like Rahm. More people in Rahm’s camp would default to him than to Carol,” the committeeman said.
The news also shocked voters who planned to vote for Emanuel.
“I think it’s absolutely absurd,” said Megan Weidenhammer, 27, a paralegal who lives in Uptown. “If you are a public servant, and you are in Washington, and you are supporting the citizens of the country than it’s outrageous that you would be thrown off of a local election when you come back to do great things for your own city.”
Who are you going to vote for now?
“I really feel I’ll vote for Rahm.”
Contributing: Kara Spak