Rahm Emanuel Leaving White House, Running For Chicago Mayor

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is leaving his job at week's end to run for mayor of Chicago.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is leaving his job at week’s end to run for mayor of Chicago, multiple sources report.   ABC‘s Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller:

Although no final decision has been made because of family considerations, ABC News has learned that White House officials are preparing for Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to announce on Friday — as Congress adjourns for recess — that he is leaving his post to explore a run for mayor of Chicago.

White House officials expect that President Obama will also name an interim chief of staff, perhaps senior adviser Pete Rouse, at the announcement.


The former Chicagoan has never been coy about his desire to head the proverbial City With Shoulders.

“One day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. … That’s always been an aspiration of mine, even when I was in the House of Representatives,” Emanuel said in April to Bloomberg’s Charlie Rose. With Daley’s announced exit, ambitious Chicago Democrats quickly began angling to replace him, creating pressure for Emanuel to make a decision on his White House position soon, even coming from the president himself.

“I think that Rahm will have to make a decision quickly, because running for mayor of Chicago is a serious enterprise,” President Obama said Monday on NBC’s “Today Show.” “He hasn’t told me yet. But as soon as he does, I’m sure that we’ll announce it.”

The president has been clear that Emanuel has his blessing when the job opened, aides calling it an “unbelievably attractive opportunity” for anyone that the president would support.

While ABC’s story has all manner of hedging language, CNN has already sent out a Breaking News alert and John King says it’s a done deal.

Three Democratic sources close to Rahm Emanuel tell CNN that the White House chief of staff informed senior colleagues he is all but certain to run for mayor of Chicago, and will leave the White House to take the final exploratory steps.

Close associates are already building a campaign team according to sources.

An announcement by Emanuel is expected to be scheduled for Friday, sources said.  One of the sources, a prominent Democrat close to the White House chief of staff, told CNN, “We see nothing that will stop a run. But you don’t announce a campaign for mayor of Chicago in Washington, D.C. You leave and go home and finish your business there.”


Assuming there is no hitch – and none is expected – longtime Obama adviser Pete Rouse is in line to be tapped as interim chief of staff, two of the sources said.

We discussed this a couple weeks back on OTB Radio, with longtime Chicagoan Dave Schuler saying that the key to winning the Democratic nomination, and thus all but guaranteeing the mayoralty, is securing the support of the Daley Machine. One presumes Emanuel has either received strong assurances that he’ll have it.

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  1. Pete says:

    I wonder how he feels about the vaunted patronage system.

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    Highly likely I would have thought since his wife and family still live in Chicago apparently and his ambition for the office is well known. It’s also a fair bet he’s had the nod from Daly.

  3. Tano says:

    “the key to winning the Democratic nomination, and thus all but guaranteeing the mayoralty, is securing the support of the Daley Machine”

    I am no expert on Chicago politics, so I have a few questions and observations that I would be interested in hearing more knowlegeable people discuss.

    1) Everyone always talks about the “Daley machine” – its an utterly predictable trope by now. The term refers originally to the organization built up by the father. How has it changed over the years/? Is it still the same type of dominating force?

    2) Rahn seems to have many advantages in this race that would seem to allow him to be independent of any machine. He has his own political constituency on the North side – is Congressional district that he won election to several times without much trouble. He has universal name-recognition as a “very important person”. Being chief of staff to the POTUS is quite the credential – no one will be able to claim that he cannot run a major political office. And he has the implicit, if not explicit support of Obama – which I imagine is absolutely golden, especially on the south side.

    So, does Rahm need any machine support? Really? He seems to have quite the standing outside of the machine.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    The interesting national angle is that the mayor’s race is threatening to suck oxygen and money out of this year’s statewide races, such as the Senate. By announcing before the November elections, the Mayor may have shifted a virtual tie race to the Republicans. It would not be the first time that the Mayor has shafted the statewide Democrats.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    Tano: You might be interested in this piece written in August by a Chicago political commentor. He attempted to quantify the candidates as of July 1st.


    I believe Dave Schuler thought it was a reasonable assessment.

  6. Tano says:

    Thanks PD. lots of interesting stuff there, but the evaluation of Rahm is not very convincing. The personality of a “prune”? I can imagine a lot of negative adjectives to hurl at Rahm, but that would not be on my list.
    I am still guessing that, for the reasons I laid out above, and for his skill at fundraising as well, that Rahm is very well situated. He is a pretty smart pol as well, and I imagine he would not be leaving the WH if he didn’t assess his own chances as being pretty good.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    Tano: The alternate theory was that he was leaving the WH anyway, and this gives him the opportunity to be a player in one of the biggest shake-ups in a generation.

    You may want to google some background on Sheriff Dart or Rev. Meeks, who are pretty popular pols. Dart took on the banks to halt and slowdown mortgage foreclosures and was on Time’s list of 100 most influential people. Rev. Meeks, an african-american, has a strong base in his community, plus he’s popular with Republicans for his stance on school vouchers, value issues, and made the most popular speech against Blagojevich at the impeachment.

    I assume if Emanuel has an angle it’s that there are going to be seventeen names or so on the ballot, and he can somehow put together a core of 15% or so of voters and get in the runoff election. Then it would just become who everyone dislikes the least.

  8. floyd says:

    Hardly “running”, more like a cakewalk with the Democrat machine controlling the music![lol]