It's a pretty well known rule. The drama could probably have been avoided a few ways - quite simply by talking to folks first before nominating.
Now, let's say a user had what I call "a bad day". Let's call him Master Nerd. Maybe their cat walks all over their keyboard and they keep posting random gibberish in answers. I suspend them a day to sort things out, and there's an election 6 months later.
Master Nerd is awesome. They have great meta presence. They're a net benefit to the community and everyone loves them and their cat. MN wants to stand for election but is aware of the suspension disqualifying them.
So the proper thing to do is firstly to get in touch with the local mods. "Hey, so... about the cat incident. I've made sure my keyboard won't get cat-gibberished again, and I've been really good since then, can I be a mod?". Now, MN's been awesome and it would be a loss. We'd probably have a word with the CM team and go "Hey, so no foul.". For that matter, they could talk to the CM team (though I'm not sure what's the proper channel for that).
That said, if MN had stood for election without asking, and got kicked out, we'd be less inclined to help cause they had a warning and didn't listen. Better luck the next time. If they did ask, but the mod team wasn't ready to have them potentially on board, we could at least try the next time.
At the end of the day, if you want a rule to be waived, you absolutely should check with someone who could help - either waive it or talk to the people you can.
The key to avoiding drama is prompt, honest communication.