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The irony of Rahm Emanuel's ballot foibles

January 25, 2011 | 11:40 am

EmanuelRahm Emanuel's on-again, off-again campaign for mayor of Chicago was back on Tuesday after the Illinois Supreme Court ordered his name to stay on the ballot  at least until it has finished hearing his appeal. The order came a day after a state appeals court declared Emanuel ineligible  for next month's election because he didn't meet the legal requirements for residency.

The Supreme Court may still decide that Emanuel doesn't qualify because he didn't reside in Chicago for a full year before the Feb. 22 election, as the state requires for local officeholders. But the law provides an exception for those who leave the state temporarily to serve their country, and being a political appointee in the White House clearly fits that bill. Being a political appointee in the Obama White House seems like a particularly temporary posting.

It's also funny that an appeals court in Illinois would hold that Obama's former chief of staff wasn't enough of a Chicagoan to run for mayor this year. While Emanuel was in Washington, a persistent criticism (particularly by commenters on this blog) was that he was too much a part of Chicago's political machine.

I think the Wall Street Journal hit the nail on the head in Tuesday's editorial  (which is locked behind the Journal's pay wall, sorry):

It's tempting to enjoy Mr. Emanuel's ballot troubles because he's a darling of rich Chicago liberals and it's a rare misstep for the Daley machine, which is backing him. But we don't think Mr. Emanuel should be penalized, or Chicago voters denied a chance to vote for him, because he chose to serve his country.

Whether he served his country well is a separate question, as the Journal notes. But that should be something for Chicago voters to decide when they pick their next mayor.

-- Jon Healey

Credit: EPA / Tannen Maury

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