Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel defends claim of Chicago residency

Rahm Emanuel defended his status as a Chicago resident even though he worked "seven days a week, twenty-four seven" as President Obama's White House chief of staff.

Emanuel must prove he's been a resident of Chicago for the previous year in order to remain eligible for the February mayoral primary. His place on the ballot faces close to 30 challenges.

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At a Tuesday hearing, Emanuel faced hours of grilling by some of the challengers, who were allowed to question him directly at the Chicago Board of Elections.

During an exchange, Emanuel was asked to describe his schedule at the White House.

"What was your hours? I mean, it was a job, right? You worked at a job. Nine to five, I mean, how many days a week did [you work]?," Paul McKinley, a city resident challenging his eligibility asked.

Emanuel: "We used to joke that on Friday, that there was two more work days to Monday, to give you a sense of it. It was seven days a week, twenty-four seven."

McKinley: "So it was brutal, you worked everyday?"

Emanuel: "Yes."

McKinley: “Working seven days in Washington, D.C., where were you staying?”

Emanuel described how for the first six months of his tenure his wife and children stayed behind at their home in Chicago. "Periodically — rarely — but periodically I was able to come visit them," he said.

They later rented out the family home and moved to the Cathedral Heights neighborhood of Washington. That move is another element of the residency challenges.

Emanuel was named White House chief of staff after the 2008 election and held the title until last October.

He filed Illinois taxes in 2009 as a "part-year resident," but later amended that return to indicate his family's "full-year" residency in the state. He called the original filing "not accurate," according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The hearing is being carried live by NBC Chicago.

Emanuel still has his defenders in Washington.

On Monday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said he has no doubt that Emanuel is a Chicago resident.

"I think reasonable people would all agree: Rahm Emanuel is from Chicago. And there's never been any doubt about that," he said.

—This post was updated at 4:12 p.m. and 6:16 p.m.

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