The third court to take on the question of Rahm Emanuel’s eligibility to run for Mayor of Chicago has decided against him. Emanuel, an Appellate Court has found, is not eligible to run for mayor because he does not satisfy the residency requirement by living in Chicago for a year before filing his candidacy. This is a blow to the Rahm Emanuel campaign for mayor, for sure, one from which he may not be able to recover.

Two earlier decisions found in Rahm’s favor. The Chicago Board of Elections and a Cook County court found that Emanuel did qualify to run for mayor, but Burt Odelson, the challenging attorney, pressed onward taking the case before an Illinois appellate Court. Odelson won his latest case against Emanuel.

Chicago election law states that a candidate for mayor must have lived in Chicago for a year prior to filing to run for mayor. Emanuel, of course, was living in Washington D.C. for much of the last two years while serving as Obama’s Chief of Staff.

This service, Emanuel contended, satisfied the rules that governed people serving their country (like soldiers). After all, Emanuel contended, he was still registered to vote in Cook County and still owned a home in the city.

But the law is pretty clear saying that one must live in Chicago for a year. It does not say anything about registrations or owning property. The Appellate Court has seen that stipulation clearly.

Emanuel has vowed to take the case to the Illinois Supreme Court, but there is only four weeks until election day and it might be hard for the Supreme Court to take the case, hear it, and make a decision in time.

Further, the ballot printing date is next Monday, Jan. 31, only a week away. At this point city representatives are saying that with this Appellate decision it will be too late to get Emanuel’s name printed on the ballot. There just isn’t enough time, city officials claim.

So, even if Emanuel gets a favorable decision in the Supreme Court, it isn’t likely that ballots will bear his name because they will have been printed and distributed before he can get the decision.

Lastly, there is a possibility that he can launch a write-in campaign. The normal deadline for filing as a write-in already passed (a Dec. 23 deadline) but there is a provision that candidates undergoing challenges have until Fed. 15 to file for a write-in campaign.

The Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago 2011 Election Information Pamphlet and Calendar says the following:

Thursday, December 23, 2010: Last day (by 5:00 p.m.) a person may file a notarized Declaration of Intent to be a Write-in Candidate for the February 22, 2011 Municipal General Election; however, if an objection to a candidate’s nomination papers is sustained after this date, then the deadline for filing a Declaration of Intent shall be February 15, 2011. File in the office of the Board of Election Commissioners. [10 ILCS 5/18-9.1]

Still, if the Appellate Court’s finding that he does not qualify over the residency issue stands, even a write-in candidacy is impossible.

All in all, it is quite an interesting day in the City of Chicago.