Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former, hardnosed Chief of Staff, was kicked off the ballot for mayor of Chicago today by an Illinois appellate court.

The three-judge panel ruled 2-to-1 that Emanuel did not meet the state's residency requirements to run for mayor.

Emanuel, who left the White House in October, 2010, to run for the top executive officer of the nation's third largest city, was the leading fundraiser in the race when the decision came down earlier today.

Emanuel told reporters that he full expected to be reinstated in the race on appeal.

I have no doubt at the end we will prevail, he said, according to published reports.

The Emanuel campaign plans a rally this evening in defense of his right to be on the ballot.

Appellate justices Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall ruled against Emanuel. Justice Bertina Lampkin voted in favor of keeping him on the ballot.

Opponents have argued that Emanuel is not a resident of Chicago because he rented out his North Side home while serving as chief of staff to Obama. The renter - Rob Halpin - refused to allow Emanuel to move back in after Mayor Daley's announcement last year that he would not seek re-election, according to reports.

The state municipal code requires candidates for mayor in Illinois to reside within the town in which they're running for a year prior to Election Day.

Emanuel had won two previous rulings - before the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and a Cook County judge. The case was appealed to the appellate court, which overturned the judge's decision.

Emanuel attorney Mike Kasper said he would quickly file an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

The election for mayor of Chicago is slated for Feb. 22.

Emanuel has argued that leaving Chicago to serve the president should count as serving the country and allow him to retain his Chicago residency, even though he has not lived there for two years.