Welcome to Chicago, Rahm!

Hey, Rahm Emanuel, now that your candidacy has been cleared by Hearing Officer Joseph Morris, you can finally join the mayor’s race.

(Never mind the impending Circuit Court hearings, you should sail through those, too.)

Last week, during your residency hearing, you skipped all three mayoral forums. We can understand why. You weren't sure you belonged on the same stage as such well-established candidates as Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico and James Meeks, who were born here, went to high school here, and have never lived anywhere else. As a kid who spent his formative years in the suburbs, you didn’t feel you had the street cred to hang with that crowd.

But now you’re one of the gang, Rahm. Your name won’t be booed at these forums anymore. As Morris put it, “the preponderance of this evidence establishes that the candidate never formed an intention to terminate his residence in Chicago; never formed an intention to establish his residence in Washington, D.C., or any place other than Chicago; and never formed an intention to change his residence."

That means you can get up onstage and sing “Sweet Home Chicago” with Lonnie Brooks, and no one will laugh. OK, maybe they will, but now they'll be rude for laughing at you.

We see that you’re celebrating your first morning as a real Chicagoan by shaking hands with commuters at the Southport L stop. A lot of young, ambitious college graduates move to that neighborhood when they first arrive in Chicago. You did, after Sarah Lawrence. These are your people. The Music Box Theatre showed It’s A Wonderful Life last night. Uncommon Ground serves great coffee and folk music. It makes sense that you’re starting there. That’s your comfort zone. But we hope you’ll eventually discover the Chicago beyond the Lakefront.

For example, you could visit the Garfield L stop, where 20th Ward aldermanic candidate Che “Rhymefest” Smith sang Christmas carols last night. Or the Howard L stop, which is in the news this morning because a man with a gun barricaded himself in an apartment building a few blocks away, and because Miguel del Valle is touring a nearby soup kitchen.

It’s a big city you’re part of now, Rahm. We’re looking forward to seeing you all over town.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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