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Emanuel Residency Case Moves To Appellate Court

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Rahm Emanuel

Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel answers questions about his residency. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – An attorney challenging Rahm Emanuel’s right to run for mayor of Chicago has taken his case to the Illinois Appellate Court, one day after a Cook County judge ruled Emanuel could stay on the ballot.

Burt Odelson has been leading efforts to get Emanuel kicked off the ballot, arguing the former White House chief of staff does not meet residency requirements to run for mayor because he moved to Washington, D.C., two years ago to work for President Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Mark Ballard ruled that Emanuel did not forfeit his legal residency in Chicago when he moved to D.C., allowing Emanuel to stay on the ballot for the Feb. 22 mayoral election.

Wednesday afternoon, Odelson filed a notice of appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court.

Lawyers for Emanuel planned to file their response to the appeal on Thursday. Attorneys expect to present oral arguments on Jan. 20.

Emanuel’s legal team has argued that he always intended to return to Chicago, noting that he maintained ownership of his Ravenswood home.

Ballard agreed that Emanuel kept his residency in Chicago, ruling that “it didn’t matter” that he went to D.C. to work for Obama, handing Emanuel his third straight victory in the residency fight.

“An individual’s residency is not abandoned, even though that individual may not have a right to sleep within the jurisdiction,” Ballard ruled.

Odelson had argued that Emanuel abandoned his home by renting it out, rather than keeping it vacant and providing himself with a place to sleep in Chicago.

“We don’t look at these as losses, they’re just stepping stones to get to the appellate and Supreme Court,” Odelson said Tuesday.

Emanuel’s attorneys were confident their case would survive appeal.

“He’s lost before a hearing officer, he’s lost before three commissioners, all of whom are very, very familiar with the election law. He’s lost before a very experienced judge here and we’re not even prepared to presume that he’ll go to the appellate court,” said Kevin Forde, Emanuel’s attorney.

Odelson is seeking an expedited appeal, asking for a hearing within the next week to 10 days.

Last month, Emanuel, who is widely regarded as the frontrunner in the mayoral race, endured a day defending himself from dozens of people who are challenging his claims that he meets the residency requirements to run for mayor.

Illinois state law says a candidate for mayor is required to have lived in the municipality where he is running for at least one year prior to the election. But exceptions are made for national service.

Emanuel has also argued all along that he intended to return to Chicago.

“My car is licensed in the city of Chicago. I pay property taxes here in the city of Chicago. I vote in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said at the hearing.

Odelson has argued that “national service” would only apply to military service, not serving as chief of staff to President Barack Obama as Emanuel did.

He also argued that Emanuel’s insistence that he always planned to return to Chicago did not matter.

But Chicago Board of Elections hearing officer Joseph Morris disagreed, and advised that Emanuel had intended to return to the city and should stay on the ballot. The Board of Election Commissioners agreed soon afterward.

Odelson said he expects the case to go all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, and the process could take a month to settle.

CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.

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