Del Valle on the Emanuel Ruling | Bleader

Del Valle on the Emanuel Ruling


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Miguel Del Valle
  • Miguel Del Valle
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology
Miguel del Valle was grinning at lunchtime today—and why wouldn't he be? He'd just learned that the appellate court had knocked Rahm Emanuel off the ballot. Emanuel will appeal that ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court, but for the moment there was joy in del Valle's humble campaign headquarters on Grand Avenue in West Town.

Around noon, del Valle was in a meeting in a cramped office there when he heard cheering erupt in the next room, and wondered what was going on. The news had just come over TV.

"Here's what I think this does," he said a half hour later. "Voters had bought into this air of invincibility that has been orchestrated by the Emanuel campaign—that he's sure to win because of his bottomless pit of dollars." So they hadn't really considered Emanuel's opponents, del Valle said. "Now they'll think, OK—what about the others? That will allow people like me to get a first look. I haven't even gotten a first look, because people said, These other guys don't stand a chance. And maybe the first look will lead to a second look. Then the dynamics change—even if he gets back in."

The dynamics would have to change markedly for del Valle, the city clerk, to have a shot with Emanuel in the race. A Tribune poll last week showed Emanuel with 44 percent and del Valle with just 7. If the Supreme Court doesn't overturn today's ruling, and Emanuel stays off the ballot, del Valle will still have to beat out either Gery Chico or Carol Moseley Braun on February 22 to get into a runoff with the other. The Trib poll had Braun at 21 percent and Chico at 16. But del Valle was brimming with necessary optimism. He pointed to the 4 percent margin of error in the poll. "You give me that margin, I'm at 11 percent, you take it away from [Chico], we're almost tied," he said with a hearty laugh.

Del Valle said he'd expected the appellate court to rule for Emanuel "but I felt there was room for interpretation." He'd thought the residency battle had been mainly benefiting Emanuel. "The whole thing works in his favor from a political standpoint. It gets him sympathy votes. He knows it, and he's playing it well. He's now a victim."

And, del Valle said, maybe he is a victim: "As far as I'm concerned, the guy should be on the ballot. But I'm not the judges interpreting the law—and we are a nation of laws. I'm going to respect the finding."

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