As Rahm Kicks Off Mayoral Bid, a Residency Challenge Looms
October 4, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)—As former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel officially launched his Chicago mayoral campaign on Sunday, his opponents are waiting in the wings to pounce on his somewhat questionable residency status. Emanuel is a lifelong Chicago resident, so how could he possible have a residency problem? It all boils down to the renting of the Emanuel family home and an ornery tenant who refuses to budge. But Rhambo doesn’t seem too worried. He produced a web video kicking off a “Tell It Like It Is” tour leading up to the November registration deadline.
The Chicago Sun Times sought out the expert advice of James Nally and Burt Odelson, two area election attorneys. Odelson has been working for two of Emanuel’s opponents and is already circling the wagons, by talking up a residency challenge.
“The guy does not meet the statutory requirements to run for mayor,” said attorney Burt Odelson. “He hasn’t been back there in 18 months. Residency cases are usually very hard to prove because the candidate gets an apartment or says he’s living in his mother’s basement. Here the facts are easy to prove. He doesn’t dispute he’s been in Washington for the past 18 months. This is not a hard case.”
But on the other hand, Emanuel has maintained his home as his official legal residence on his driver’s license, has continued to vote in Chicago on absentee ballots, and he has paid property taxes on his home.
Additionally, Cook County judges allow wide discretion when a candidate’s intent is clearly to remain a resident.
“To run for mayor, a candidate must be a Chicago resident for at least one year before the Feb. 22, 2011, election. Generally, if a candidate leaves the state for work yet retains ownership of a city property, maintains his voter registration and continues to vote absentee, he should not have a problem, according to Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections.”
‘”We don’t know what nature an objection might be so I don’t want to prejudge the facts that might be filed, but when someone maintains voter registration in Chicago we consider that person a resident,” Allen said. “It’s no different from someone (who is) in the military or travels a great deal on business.”‘
Emanuel’s spokesperson issued a statement on the residency flap, dismissing the controversy as the usual partisan politics.
“Two officials from the Chicago Board of Elections have clearly stated that the overriding legal issue is intent, and the fact that Rahm owns a home and votes in Chicago means he’s a Chicagoan — regardless of his opponent’s old-style political efforts to limit the choice for voters,” Emanuel spokeswoman Lori Goldberg said.
And he is urging Chicagoans to talk to him about the city’s problems in “blunt Chicago terms.”