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Rahm Emanuel Fights To Get Back On Ballot

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Rahm Emanuel

Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel discusses his hopes to be restored on the ballot. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 01/25/11 – 11:17 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Rahm Emanuel is now trying to win two races.

Emanuel is racing against time to get his name back on the mayoral ballot, after an Illinois Appellate Court panel kicked him off. He has filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court, asking the high court to overturn a ruling that knocked him off the ballot for Chicago mayor.

Emanuel’s lawyers filed the appeal with the state’s highest court Tuesday morning — one day after an appeals court panel booted him off the Feb. 22 ballot because he didn’t live in Chicago for a year before the election.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

In the appeal, Emanuel’s attorneys call the appeals court decision “one of the most far-reaching election law rulings ever” issued by an Illinois court. They say the ruling imposes “a new, significant limitation” on ballot access.

On Monday, the panel ruled that Emanuel does not meet the residency requirements to run for mayor of Chicago. Appellate judges Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall ruled against Emanuel, while Justice Bertina Lampkin voted in favor of keeping President Obama’s former chief of staff on the Feb. 22 ballot.

As CBS 2′s Susanna Song reports, early voting starts in just one week, and ballots are already being printed without Emanuel’s name on them.

Emanuel is asking the Illinois Supreme Court for a hearing on his appeal as soon as possible. He has said he is confident that he ultimately will prevail.

“I think that we will succeed because of the thoroughness of our argument, but most importantly, I’m also more determined to see this through so the people have a right to make the choice for themselves of who they think should be mayor,” Emanuel said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

In addition to their appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, Emanuel’s attorneys have filed an emergency motion asking the high court to stay the appellate ruling and keep his name on the ballot if city election officials start to print them as planned on Tuesday.

Mike Dorf, an election law attorney, said in his opinion, the appellate court made a bad decision.

“They completely ignored the statue that says if you’re on business of the United States, you don’t lose your residency; and they said that only applied to voters and not to candidates,” Dorf said.

Two million ballots have been ordered with only five mayoral candidates’ names on them – Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Miguel Del Valle, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, and William “Dock” Walls. The Chicago Board of Elections says it will do its best to make the necessary changes if the state Supreme Court reverses the decision.

The Chicago Board of Elections has said it will continue to print the ballots without Emanuel’s name because there isn’t a lot of time. Absentee ballots need to be sent out soon, and they can’t simply stop the process.

If the Illinois Supreme Court rules in Emanuel’s favor, putting his name back on the ballot would be an expensive process, and also could create confusion for voters.

Dorf said not only would elections officials have to reprint ballots, they’d have to reprogram the touch-screen ballot systems used during early voting.

“They’ll have to reprint and they’ll have to reprogram the early voting and then it’s a question about the people who may have already early voted, whether they have a chance to get a redo,” Dorf said. “It’s gonna be a mess.”

While Emanuel remains hopeful that his name will appear on the ballots, his top three opponents have been quick to respond to Monday’s stunning development.

Del Valle has said the appellate court’s ruling takes the election out of the hands of Wall Street millionaires and Hollywood celebrities who have filled Emanuel’s $11.7 million campaign warchest and puts the decision in the hands of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

“Now the voters are going to have an opportunity to select the mayor of the City of Chicago instead of millionaires and lobbyists — and I think that’s good for the neighborhoods of the city of Chicago,” said del Valle.

Braun immediately reached out to Emanuel supporters, asking them to support her campaign. She also stood behind the appellate court’s ruling knocking Emanuel off the ballot.

“There is no way that I would second guess the Court of Appeals of our state — I mean, I believe in the rule of law — that’s kind of basic — and it seems to me that the law is the law is the law,” Braun said.

Chico has said that, regardless of whether Emanuel is allowed back on the ballot or kept off, he’ll run the same way he has from the beginning.

On Tuesday, Chico picked up a big endorsement. With less than a week until early voting and not even a month away from the election, Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 gave Chico’s campaign a major boost.

“I am humbled to receive the support of the heroes who put their lives on the line to protect Chicagoans every single day. Our firefighters personify what public service should be about – hard work and helping people,” Chico said. “As mayor, I will work with our firefighters to ensure Chicago is safe and our citizens are protected.”

In backing Chico, Chicago Firefighters Union President Tom Ryan said that, “After examining the entire roster of candidates and their respective track records, we determined that nobody in this race has the relevant experience of delivering essential city services that Gery Chico possesses.”

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