Tuesday, December 7, 2010



Now comes the seemingly mundane, but potentially thrilling, stage in the campaign for mayor of Chicago when the eligibility of candidates can be challenged. Usually, these challenges have their origins in the validity of the petitions submitted by the candidates, and already such notables as M. Tricia Lee (apparently no relation to the Mr. Lee of the Bobbette’s 1957 girl group classic), Jay Stone (apparently no relation to former Harry Carey sidekick Steve Stone), Tommy Hanson (apparently no relation to the Hanson Brothers of the hockey (sort of) world), and Ryan Graves (apparently no relation to my old college buddy Dave Graves) have been dropped from the ballot due to the deficiencies in their petitions. In addition, Rob Halpin, distinguished mostly by his having rented a house from Rahm Emanuel, has taken himself out of the race, citing the “financial and legal” hurdles of a race, as if such obstacles had never occurred to him before. But the real attention is being drawn by challenges to Rahm Emanuel, the objections to whose candidacy have their geneses not in his petitions but in his residency. Mr. Emanuel, as anyone who is following this race knows, has a problem: He hasn’t lived in Chicago for a few years but is insisting that this doesn’t mean he has not been a resident of our town during that period. Only in politics does this make sense, but I digress.

I have thought about this residency issue, as I have written in the past, but not all that deeply. I still think it’s a non-issue if only because, while one can say a lot of things about Rahm Emanuel, no one can legitimately accuse the guy of not being on the ball. Since this is the case, I am assuming that Rahm had thought hard about the residency issue before leaving his White House job to run for mayor. This, of course, assumes that he left the White House job voluntarily (See my 9/10/10 post PRESCIENT MR. PONTIFICATOR? NOT YET.). Another reason that residency is probably not an issue is the politicized nature of this town. There are enough powerful people who want Emanuel to be mayor, if one believes the press, that one can be reasonably confident that Rahm will be, in Chicago vernacular, greased through the challenges to his candidacy. On the other hand, if, as rumor has it, Ed Burke both controls the courts in this town and backs Gery Chico, this could get interesting. I was about to say that such a line of argument might be too Machiavellian, even for Chicago, but then I returned from my ever so brief and disquieting flight of idealism to the reality of politics in my beloved home town.

I suppose what I am saying is that, while I remain confident that Rahm Emanuel’s lack of residency will not result in his being declared a non-resident and thus in his being tossed off the ballot, such confidence is being shaken ever so slightly. However, I would hate to see Mr. Emanuel lose the election on what, in Chicago politics at least, amounts to a technicality. Were, say, Gery Chico, Danny Davis, or James Meeks to become mayor under such circumstances, his victory would be very much akin to the Bears’ two victories over the Detroit Lions this year…hollow victories arising from lousy calls by the officials. Of course, a victory is still a victory, but in Chicago the show is as important as the outcome, and we all want the best show possible; they don’t come around all that often in these parts.

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