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Posted at 6:09 PM ET, 01/27/2011

Rahm Emanuel ruled eligible for Chicago mayoral race

By Chris Cillizza

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel meets the residency requirements to run for Chicago mayor, overturning a lower court ruling and re-installing him as the race's frontrunner.

"This is a situation in which, not only did the candidate testify that his intent was not to abandon his Chicago residence, his acts fully support and confirm that intent," the court wrote in the ruling, which you can read in full here.

The ruling comes just days after a divided appellate court panel said that Emanuel was ineligible to run for mayor because he had not lived in Chicago for the past year.

Emanuel's lawyers argued that he had been serving the country in his capacity as chief of staff to President Obama and had always intended to return to Chicago even though he was renting his home to a tenant. The state Supreme Court agreed.

After the ruling, Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times that the Supreme Court did voters a service.

"As I said from the beginning, voters deserve a right to make a choice of who should be mayor,'' Emanuel said. "And I think what the Supreme Court said was basically, in short, that the voters will make the decision who should be mayor. No one should make it for them.''

Emanuel's legal victory comes less than a month before the Feb. 22 primary where polling suggests he is a clear frontrunner.

A Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released over the weekend -- which now seems like a millenium ago given the twists and turns in the contest since then -- showed Emanuel at 44 percent while former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun took 21 percent and former Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Gery Chico received 16 percent. No other candidate took double digit support.

In the wake of the ruling, Chico said that the legal drama had turned "this election into a circus instead of a serious debate about the future of Chicago."

If Emanuel is able to win more than 50 percent next month, he would avoid an April 5 runoff with the second highest vote-getter.

Prior to the legal contretemps, Emanuel was widely expected to reach that mark -- thanks in no small part to his financial dominance in the contest. Emanuel reported collecting nearly $12 million for the race well beyond Chico's $2.4 million and Moseley Braun's $446,000.

Mayor Richard M. Daley is leaving office this spring after 22 years in office, the longest tenured mayor ever in the history of the Windy City. Daley's father -- Richard J. Daley -- served as mayor from 1955 until his death in 1976.

Emanuel, who represented a Chicago-area district in Congress from 2002 until he resigned in 2009 to serve as chief of staff, has made no secret of his desire to serve as mayor of Chicago.

Should he win the office, he will almost immediately be part of the conversation about future statewide offices including governor and senator.

By Chris Cillizza  | January 27, 2011; 6:09 PM ET
Categories:  White House  
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