Rahm Emanuel is given the green light to run for Chicago mayor

The path to office is (relatively) clear: Rahm Emanuel has been given the green light to run for the post of mayor of Chicago

The path to office is (relatively) clear: Rahm Emanuel has been given the green light to run for the post of mayor of Chicago

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel can run for Chicago mayor, an election board has ruled.

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners gave Mr Emanuel the green light even though he spent much of the last two years living in Washington while working for President Barack Obama.

With the board's decision, Mr Emanuel clears a major hurdle in his bid to replace retiring Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Officials have tried to expedite mayoral ballot challenges before the February 22 vote, and the board's decision is almost sure to be challenged in the courts.

An election board hearing officer said evidence suggests that Mr Emanuel had no intention of terminating his residency in Chicago, left the city only to work for Mr Obama and often told friends he intended to live in Washington for no more than two years.

'Illinois law expressly protects the residential status and electoral rights of Illinois residents who are called to serve the national government,' hearing officer Joseph Morris.

Earlier today, Mr Emanuel said she he was encouraged by the officer's recommendation.

'Chicago voters should ultimately have the right to decide the election - and to vote for me or against me,' Mr Emanuel said in a statement before the board made its ruling.

More than two dozen people challenged Mr Emanuel's candidacy, contending he didn't meet a one-year residency requirement.

Mr Emanuel quit his job as Mr Obama's top aide and moved back to Chicago in October after Mayor Daley announced he wouldn't seek a seventh term.

Mr Emanuel is part of a crowded field of more than a dozen candidates, including former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, former school board president Gery Chico, City Clerk Miguel del Valle and state Sen. James Meeks, the pastor of a South Side mega church.

Since returning to Chicago in October to run for mayor, Mr Emanuel has enjoyed strong name recognition in the race and already has run several TV ads.

A recent Chicago Tribune/WGN poll showed Mr Emanuel as the only candidate in double digits with more than 30 per cent support, although 30 per cent remained undecided.

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