CHICAGO (CBS) – Fifteen separate challenges have been filed against Rahm Emanuel’s candidacy for mayor. Opponents claim he hasn’t been a Chicago resident for a full-year before the February election, as required by law.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that Emanuel is trotting out experts and allies to direct the debate back to campaign issues.
But that hasn’t stopped Emanuel’s opponents from beating a path to Chicago Board of Elections’ offices with challenges to Emanuel’s candidacy.
Most of the challenges appear linked to perennial candidate William “Dock” Walls, who has been conferring with those filing the objections, even providing the notary to sign them all.
But there were several other filings which don’t appear to be connected to Walls.
One of them, from election law specialist Burt Odelson, seeks to shoot down Emanuel’s likely defense that he qualifies to run because he was out of state in service to the country.
“Service to the United States is when you’re in the military, that’s when your serving the United States,” Odelson said. “It’s not when you’re in service to the President of the United States.”
Odelson’s argument was countered by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Emanuel’s former House colleague during a conference call set up by the Emanuel campaign on Friday.
“The chief of staff for the president, if that isn’t public service and a reason to leave the city to serve your country, I don’t know what is,” Schakowsky said.
With Emanuel on the West Coast over the Thanksgiving weekend, celebrating the holiday with his family, his campaign staff offered two conference calls in three days, calling the residency issue one of intent.
They claim he qualifies to run because he intended to return to Chicago after joining the Obama administration.
“The law says you have to have a physical presence, not just intent,” Odelson countered. “I’ve heard all these notions about intent, intent. It’s the physical presence; it’s where your wife lives, where your children live, where they go to school. Intent is minor.”
Ironically, Odelson once represented former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas on the other side of a similar case when Vallas, then working out of state, was seeking to return to Illinois to run for governor in 2006. Vallas lost that fight.
“Odelson is more than happy to argue either side or all sides of this issue,” Schakowsky said.
Odelson also represents State Sen. James Meeks, who also is running for mayor. Nonetheless, Odelson said Meeks had nothing to do with the challenge, which he said was on behalf of two of nearly 100 e-mailers who’d asked to be involved.
The Emanuel campaign wasn’t buying it.
Hearings on the challenges will begin after Dec. 6.