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U of C students joined fellow Rahm Emanuel supporters last night, protesting the Illinois appellate court decision eliminating the former Chief of Staff from the February mayoral ballot. The decision, based on a residency requirement, came two days after Emanuel met with Hyde Park volunteers.
In an attempt to sway the Illinois Supreme Court to overrule this verdict, supporters staged a protest at 5 p.m. last night at the Chicago Board of Elections.
U of C students joined the approximately 200 people who rallied for ahalf an hour with signs that asked the Board to reconsider on the corner of Dearborn and Washington.
First-year Benjamin Field, a fellow in Emanuel’s campaign, held a sign that read, “Let the voters decide.” He said that while he couldn’t speak on behalf of the campaign, he thinks the rally, though brief, was positive.
“The word [about the rally] got out quickly,” Field said. “There was a lot of press there, it’s definitely going to get the word out that people want to vote for Rahm and that people think he should be on the ballot.”
The court ruling is the latest event in a saga over Emanuel’s eligibility to run after leaving Chicago to serve as President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff.
Emanuel’s eligibility seemed probable until yesterday. He had won two previous rulings before a Cook County judge and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. The previous rulings stated that because Emanuel did not formally give up his Chicago residence, he was eligible.
Emanuel has raised more money and garnered more support in polls than any of his opponents, which was evident at his Saturday campaign stop in Hyde Park.
About 60 volunteers gathered at Emanuel’s Hyde Park campaign office on Hyde Park Avenue Saturday, meeting with the candidate, making phone calls, and going door to door to talk about his campaign. According to first-year and South Side campaign office intern Daniel Comeaux, volunteers made over 30,000 voter contacts during the visit.
Emanuel told the canvassers that he appreciated them sacrificing their weekends to go door-to-door in the cold. “This is how I started my political career...I want kids to have the same passion and respect for this city that I had,” he said.
But his political career—as an Illinois congressman in 2003 until his resignation in 2009 to become White House Chief of Staff—is now unpredictable.
Comeaux said that Saturday’s event energized volunteers, which was echoed in last night’s rally.
“We’re still fighting,” said Comeaux. “Even though the court decided that Rahm won’t be on the ballot, we want to show that a lot of people still want him to run.”
Field hopes the Court will listen to popular support for the campaign. While the Supreme Court does not operate on a partisan level, “a lot of judges will rule based on what they think is best for the people,” said Field. “So any judge in tune with public opinion will understand that the people want Rahm on the ballot.”