From CBS Chicago
UPDATED 01/24/11 12:34 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – The Illinois Appellate Court has tossed mayoral frontrunner Rahm Emanuel off the ballot, reversing the decision of a lower court.
The Appellate Court reached a 2-1 decision to remove Emanuel.
Appellate judges Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall ruled against Emanuel. Justice Bertina Lampkin voted in favor of keeping President Obama’s former chief of staff on the Feb. 22 ballot.
“It’s a surprise,” said Kevin Forde, the attorney who argued on Emanuel’s behalf.
The candidates scrambled late Monday morning following the news and all will be holding news conferences this afternoon.
Gery Chico’s spokesperson Brooke Anderson released a statement today on the court ruling: “Today’s news is a surprise but it will not impact how we run our campaign. Gery will continue to work for every vote and lay out his plans to take Chicago in a whole new direction.”
Opponents have been trying to get Emanuel removed on the grounds that he did not reside in Chicago for a year before the upcoming February election. He moved to Washington, D.C., two years ago to work for President Barack Obama.
But Emanuel’s legal team has argued that he always intended to return to Chicago, noting that he maintained ownership of his Ravenswood home.
The Appellate Court concluded that Emanuel’s claims of intent to return were not enough.
“Based on the foregoing analysis, we conclude that… a candidate must meet not only the Election Code’s voter residency standard, but also must have actually resided within the municipality for one year prior to the election, a qualification that the candidate unquestionably does not satisfy,” the court wrote.
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 Emanuel’s team has argued that exceptions can be made for national service.
The court agreed that Emanuel’s reason for leaving Chicago constituted “business of the United States,” but argued that this still did not qualify him for the ballot.
“In our view, the exception… applies only to voter residency requirements, not to candidate residency requirements,” the court wrote.
A hearing officer, the full Chicago Board of Elections, and a Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled earlier that Emanuel is eligible to run for mayor.
Emanuel’s attorneys are expected to use Lampkin’s dissenting opinion to appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.
In today’s ruling, Hoffman wrote: “We … order that the candidate’s name be excluded (or if, necessary, be removed) from the ballot from Chicago’s Feb. 22, 2011.”
In ruling in favor of Emanuel earlier this month, Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Mark 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.
A recent poll showed Emanuel leading the pack of mayoral candidates with 44 percent support, compared with 21 percent for Carol Moseley Braun, 16 percent for Gery Chico, 7 percent for Miguel del Valle, and 9 percent are undecided.
Emanuel has also received the support of heavy-hitters such as former President Bill Clinton.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.