Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, is likely to leave the White House before the November congressional elections to run for mayor of Chicago, people familiar with the matter said.
Emanuel, who would be running to replace Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, could depart by early October, after Congress leaves for recess to campaign for the midterm elections, the people said on condition of anonymity. One person close to Emanuel said a final decision hasn't been made.
The timing of Emanuel's departure would allow him to devote full attention to the Chicago race while still giving the president time to choose his replacement as the chief gate- keeper for the Oval Office.
Among those being considered to fill the chief-of-staff post are Ron Klain, Vice President Joseph Biden's chief of staff; Thomas Donilon, U.S. deputy national security adviser; and White House Counsel Robert Bauer, people familiar with the situation said.
Emanuel, 50, would be the fourth top-level Obama adviser to leave the White House since July. The administration announced yesterday that National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers will leave by the end of the year to return to Harvard University. Peter Orszag, who served as budget director, and Christina Romer, head of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, have already left the administration.
Emanuel was the first major appointment announced by Obama after the 2008 presidential election.
Speculation about Emanuel's plans increased after he said in an April 19 interview on PBS television's "Charlie Rose Show" that running for mayor has long been an aspiration of his, though he wouldn't run against Daley. Then Daley announced on Sept. 7 that he wasn't seeking re-election.
An October date for leaving the White House is earlier than what Obama said he expected for his chief of staff.
"My expectation is he'd make a decision after these midterm elections," Obama told the "Good Morning America" program on Sept. 9. "He knows that we've got a lot of work to do. But I think he'd be a terrific mayor."
Nov. 22 is the last day to file nomination papers for the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral election. That contest is almost certain to be followed by an April 5 runoff for the top two vote-getters, assuming no one gets more than 50 percent.
A growing list of candidates is exploring bids for the office following Daley's announcement that he wouldn't run for a seventh term as mayor of America's third-largest city.
Other potential candidates include Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart; State Senator James Meeks, minister of one of Chicago's largest congregations; former city Inspector General David Hoffman; Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez, and former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun.
The office has been held by the current Mayor Daley or his father, Richard J. Daley, for 43 of the past 55 years.
Emanuel is a Chicago native and owns a house in the Lakeview neighborhood, where he lived while he was a member of Congress representing a district that includes parts of the city and adjacent suburban areas. When he and his wife, Amy Rule, moved their family to Washington, they rented out the 2,719-square-foot home, the Chicago Tribune reported.
If he runs, Emanuel is likely to face questions about help he received from a Daley patronage army to win the congressional seat in 2002 and conversations he had with former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich about who should be picked to fill the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama.
He has made a point of keeping his personal deliberations about a possible mayoral bid away from White House staff, officials said. Still, an administration official said aides wouldn't be surprised to learn that Emanuel was jumping into the race.
During preparations with aides for the president's Sept. 10 news conference, when the topic of Emanuel's interest in the mayoral bid came up, Obama's chief of staff said he didn't want to be part of those discussions and left the room, according to a person familiar with the situation.
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