It's Chicago, which means anything--save a Cubs World Series--can still happen. That said, Rahm Emanuel's mayoral hopes got a big boost Wednesday following hearing officer Joseph Morris's nonbinding recommendation to the Chicago Board of Election Commisioners that Emanuel's disputed residency status should not prevent his name from appearing on ballots. With the board expected to give its decision Thursday, a variety of voices from around the web weigh in on Emanuel's handling of the controversy, and explain how it still could shape the results of February's election

  • All Good  In his 69-page recommendation to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, Morris notes that while Emanuel might have been employed in Washington DC for 20 months, his actions made it clear he still considered Chicago his home. "Nobody denies that Rahm Emanuel was anything other than a citizen and resident of Illinois and a resident of the City of Chicago on January 2, 2009," writes Morris. "He began that morning as an elected member of the House of Representatives, representing Illinois...The heart of the question of the Candidate's residence is not whether the candidate established residence in Chicago during 2010 but if, at some point prior to, or during, but in any event affecting, the period from and after February 22, 2010, he abandoned it." Morris says he did not. Morris also points out Emanuel's work in Washington DC was conducted at the behest of the president of the United States. The Illinois election code states that no elector can lose residency "by reason of his or her absence on business of the United States, or this State." In his capacity as White House Chief of Staff, Emanuel's duties clearly included "attendance to the business of the United States."
  • 'One Step Closer to Ruling Chicago'  After months in the election law weeds, Emanuel is finally going to get to play hardball Chicago politics. New York magazine's Dan Amira hopes he knows what he's in for.
If Emanuel does ultimately manage to make it onto the ballot for the February 22 election, it should be smooth sailing from then on. Two recent polls show him leading his nearest competitor, former Chicago public schools chief Gery Chico, by between 23 and 32 points. Although in Chicago politics, you can't take for granted that getting the most votes will necessarily translate into winning.
  • Bad Neighbors  Not only have those challenging Emanuel's candidacy misjudged the law, writes the Chicago Tribune editorial board, they've misjudged what makes a good Chicagoan. "It would be different if he'd pulled up roots and settled elsewhere," writes the Tribune, "but in fact Emanuel took steps to preserve his residency: He leased his house rather than selling it; he voted absentee from his Chicago address and listed it on his vehicle registration and driver's license. In such cases, the law focuses on intent, and Emanuel clearly meant to come home to Chicago."
  • Not Over  While securing the hearing officer's recommendation was a "crucial" win for Emanuel, CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser says the situation remains fluid. "The three commissioners don't have to agree with Morris's decision," notes Steinhauser. And even if they do, "Emanuel's opponents could still go to court to try and kick him off the ballot."