Illinois' highest court put Rahm Emanuel back in the race for Chicago mayor Thursday, three days after a lower court threw the former White House chief of staff off the ballot because he had not lived in the city for a full year.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously for Emanuel, saying an appeals court decision that said the candidate needed to be physically present in Chicago was "without any foundation in Illinois law."
"As I said from the beginning, I think the voters deserve the right to make the choice of who should be mayor," Emanuel said shortly after getting word of the high court's action. "I'm not quite sure emotionally where I'm at."
For nearly two years, Emanuel lived in Washington while working for President Obama. He moved back to Chicago in October, after Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he would not seek another term.
When he learned of Thursday's ruling, Emanuel said he immediately called his wife and took a congratulatory call from his old boss, the president.
Political observers said the ruling resurrecting Emanuel's candidacy probably would give him added momentum heading into the last month of the campaign. The election is Feb. 22.
Don Rose, a longtime analyst of Chicago politics, said he thought the saga would bring Emanuel "even greater sympathy" and could lift him to victory.
"It's over," Rose said. "The only open question is whether he wins it in the first round or whether there's a runoff."
But the other contenders did not give any ground.
"Game on," said Gery Chico, the city's former School Board president and one of Emanuel's more prominent rivals.
A spokeswoman for former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, another candidate, said she respected the court's decision.