After winning a series of cases over his residency, Rahm Emanuel has apparently been tossed from the Chicago mayoral ballot by a state appellate court. The case will almost certainly move to the Illinois Supreme Court, which will have the final word.

Two of the three judges on the panel said Emanuel does not meet the residency requirement. The judges reversed an earlier decision by the Chicago Board of Elections that determined Emanuel was eligible.

Challengers have argued that Emanuel, who moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff before coming back to run for mayor, does not meet the requirement that candidates must have lived in the city for a year prior to the election.

Emanuel, who rented out his North Side home, has responded he never abandoned his residence because he continued to own the home, paid property taxes on it and voted as a Chicago resident.

Here’s the full ruling. The Illinois Supreme Court had better move fast, because this ruling orders “that the candidate’s name be excluded (or, if necessary, removed) from the ballot for Chicago’s February 22, 2011, mayoral election.” That’s less than a month away.

The ruling goes through the facts of the case, showing that Emanuel and his family moved to Washington DC in 2009 and received mail in DC, using the house on Hermitage in Chicago as a storage unit and renting it out to another family. Emanuel still had an Illinois driver’s license, had the Hermitage address on his checks, and used the Hermitage address as his voting address. He paid taxes in 2009 and 2010 in Illinois and Washington. The residency requirements for Chicago are fairly strict, and the appellate court saw them in such a way that denied Emanuel eligibility.

Eligibility requirements have a storied history in Illinois politics. Barack Obama got his first job in politics, as a State Senator, largely because he was able to throw the incumbent off the ballot because of a lack of verified signatures.

Emanuel’s appeal could be fast-tracked through the Illinois Supreme Court. If he wants to stay on the ballot, it would have to be.

Emanuel has led in all polling of the Feb. 22 race, although he hasn’t yet reached the 50% in polling that would eliminate the need for a runoff. Former Sen. Carol Mosely Braun, former Daley aide Gerry Chico and city clerk Miguel Del Valle are also competing for the position.

…a good primer on state election law here.