Updated at 3:13 p.m. on January 24.
In an election shocker, an Illinois court today disqualified Rahm Emanuel from running for Chicago mayor, throwing a cloud of uncertainty over a February 22 election that the former White House chief of staff was an odds-on favorite to win.
Emanuel said in a mid-afternoon press conference that his lawyers will appeal the ruling "very promptly," and will seek to delay early voting, set to begin in a week. Emanuel called on the state Supreme Court to quickly provide clarity -- "not only for the voters, but clarity for the issues that are at stake here in the city."
The state Supreme Court could prove rocky terrain for the powerful politico: One of the justices is Anne Burke, the wife of Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, who has endorsed one of Emanuel's rivals. Four of the seven justices must decide to hear the case for it to go forward, and the court historically has shied away from overruling lower decisions.
"I do think that the Supreme Court doesn’t like to overturn appellate courts very often," said Woods Bowman, a political science professor at DePaul University and former Illinois state representative. "They do it very carefully and infrequently, so I would say now the odds are probably against him."
Emanuel will hold a rally later this afternoon at the city's board of elections.
At issue in the case: Whether Emanuel's time in President Obama's White House violates Chicago's requirement that candidates for mayor live in the city for at least one year before running. Opponents have charged that Emanuel is not eligible to run because he rented out his Chicago home while he was working in Washington -- thus relinquishing his claim to city residency.
Emanuel had won two previous residency rulings issued by the Chicago elections board and a Cook County judge. Both agreed with Emanuel's attorneys that he had proven intent to return to the home because he had kept precious belongings there, and that he did not forfeit his residence because he was out of town on government service.
That decision was appealed, however, and today the appellate court ruled 2-1 against Emanuel. Emanuel is running to succeed longtime Mayor Richard Daley, and holds a wide lead in both polls and fundraising. His most significant challenge in the race has come from former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, but she has trailed Emanuel by a large margin in recent polling.
Watch Rahm Emanuel’s press conference here:
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