Emanuel grabbed the baton from his former boss. His lawyers invoked Obama's name repeatedly in legal briefs filed Tuesday with the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate ruling would also make the president ineligible to run for a city office in his home town. And Emanuel told supporters that he was inspired to push ahead by the president's history of ignoring critics in the "birther" movement.
"I worked for a president that has been told he's not from this country," Emanuel told supporters Tuesday morning, according to a person who attended the event. He added: "You never get distracted by the noise."
The case could be resolved as soon as Wednesday. The state Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear Emanuel's appeal. It issued an order putting the appellate ruling on hold and ordered that for now no ballots be printed without Emanuel's name on them.
In their Monday ruling, state appellate judges Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall rejected decisions from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and a Cook County judge who found that Emanuel met the criteria for residency because he was working for Obama and he maintained a Chicago home, which he rented out.
Hoffman and Hall said Emanuel will not have lived in Chicago for a year before the Feb. 22 election, writing that a candidate "must have actually resided within the municipality for one year prior to the election, a qualification that the candidate unquestionably does not satisfy."
Obama had been noticeably absent from the race since last fall, when he said Emanuel would make a "terrific mayor" and feted his outgoing aide with an elaborate East Room sendoff ceremony.
The president's reentry into the contest could prove helpful for Emanuel, whose campaign cited Jarrett's comments in a news release featuring support from "opinion leaders."
Emanuel has until now been the clear front-runner - far outpacing his rivals in fundraising and opinion polls - largely because of his close connection to the president, who is viewed as a local hero.
While the residency question is being settled, a swirl of speculation erupted Tuesday about whether political forces are driving the issue.
Emanuel's rivals have denied any involvement in the legal challenge to his candidacy, brought by two residents represented by an elections lawyer who worked for George W. Bush in the contested 2000 presidential contest.