Rahm Emanuel doesn’t need to be on the February ballot to win the mayor’s election. And it looks as though he won’t be, since the ballots are running through the printing presses right now, with Miguel del Valle’s name on top, and Emanuel’s missing.
What he needs to do is launch a write-in campaign. With $11 million, and 44 percent support in the polls, he’ll probably succeed. Remember, next month’s election is only a primary. Emanuel doesn’t need to win. He only needs to finish second, which will only require about 25 percent of the vote. Then, he’ll be on the ballot for the April runoff.
(Write-in campaigns are easier than ever, now that you can type a candidate’s name on a touch-screen voting machine.)
That, of course, assumes he wins his appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which isn’t about ballot access, but residency. If Emanuel loses, he can’t be mayor even if every voter in Chicago writes in his name.
That’s why the “Let Rahm Run” protest in the Loop was so futile, and so obnoxious. Emanuel’s supporters are trying to make the case that he should be exempted from the election laws because he’s so popular. As the Tribune put it in an editorial, “Voters, whether they support Emanuel or another candidate, clearly aren’t concerned about his residency.”
Then voters should have demanded their aldermen change the law to stop requiring that mayors live in Chicago. A lot of cops and firefighters would appreciate that too. On Monday, a Chicago firefighter called in to WLS’s Roe and Roeper to say that if Rahm wins his residency case, it means he can move his wife and kids to Glenview and still keep his city job. (The firefighter went on to say that he was voting for Chico, because he has the support of the union, thus tipping that endorsement a day early. The caller had been unimpressed by Emanuel, who’d visited his firehouse: “He’s a weasel.”)
In his own career as a Chicago politician, Emanuel has shown no mercy in eliminating opponents with less money and less clout. How many editorials did the Tribune write when Emanuel was knocking his congressional opponents off the ballot? That’s how the game is played in this town.
Emanuel’s hopes now lie with the seven judges of the Illinois Supreme Court. Finding friendly judges is also how the game is played in this town. They got a signal from the White House this morning, when Valerie Jarrett appeared on Good Morning America, and was asked what Obama thinks of the residency controversy.
“I think that he believes that he is eligible, and that he believes that Rahm will pursue his appeal in the courts,” Jarrett said of Obama, who doesn’t want Rahm coming back to Washington and asking for his old job.
Obama, of course, has the power to turn state supreme court justices into federal judges, with lifetime tenure.
The decision from Springfield likely won’t come in time to put Emanuel’s name on the ballot. So let’s practice our spelling: it’s R-A-H-M E-M-A-N-U-E-L.