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Rahm Emanuel Might not be Eligible to Run for Chicago Mayor

Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Emanuel Getty Images

Updated 10:14 am Eastern Time

Two election experts tell the Chicago Sun Times that Rahm Emanuel may not be eligible to run for mayor of Chicago because he does not meet eligibility requirements.

The potential problem for Emanuel concerns Illinois' requirement that a candidate for mayor maintain a residence in the city or town where he is running for a year in advance of the election. Emanuel has spent the past 20 months working in Washington as White House chief of staff.

Had Emanuel not rented out his home when he moved to Washington, the newspaper suggests, he may not have had a problem. But he is potentially susceptible to challenges because he has lacked a residence in Chicago and has not been able to convince his tenants to break their lease and move out of his home.

President Obama, unlike Emanuel, has kept a house in Chicago during his time in the White House, though it has been empty most of that time. He remains a Chicago resident and presumably would be eligible for the mayor's race.

Emanuel's high profile time in Washington would seem to make the eligibility challenge easier to prove than it is in most cases.

Emanuel told a reporter that he believes he is eligible, as CBS2Chicago reports.

"I think yes, I am (eligible)," Emanuel said, "but look, don't judge that. In the meantime, the main thing isn't about my residency. It is about the issues of the residents of the city of Chicago and the issues that motivated them, they care about, and their love for the city."

Emanuel may be able to stay on the ballot, the Sun Times notes, because he did not sell his house but only rented it out.

"Emanuel could argue that he has maintained ownership of the home, voted absentee earlier this year, pays property taxes on his house, lists the address on his driver's license, registers his car there, and always intended to return," the newspaper reports. "Cook County judges give great deference to a candidate's intent."

Emanuel kicked off his candidacy with a video over the weekend, and embarked on a citywide listening tour today.

Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi, who is reportedly working as lead strategist for likely mayoral candidate and Emanuel rival Tom Dart, mocked Emanuel on Twitter for filming the introductery video in Washington.

"I was born here, and my wife Amy and I raised our three children here," Emanuel says in the video. "I'm glad to be home."

"Guess Rahm's 'tell it like it is' tour doesn't tell it like it is. 'It's good to be home' video shot in wrong city," Trippi wrote.

Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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