Rahm Emanuel Likely To Leave White House Next Month

Reports out of Chicago seem to indicate that Rahm Emanuel’s decision on the Chicago Mayor’s race is all but officially announced:

WASHINGTON — All signs point to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel running for mayor of Chicago.

Emanuel’s decision is all but made — he still has some family matters to consider — but if his trajectory holds, watch for him to step down from his White House perch sometime in October. It will be a quick transition for

The window for filing at least 12,500 valid signatures on mayoral nominating petitions opens Nov. 15 and closes Nov. 22. While Emanuel has $1.2 million in his political war chest, he still would need a few weeks to get his organization up and running. People whom I talked to whom Emanuel discussed a mayoral run with are convinced he will run — with eyes wide open that there will be a lot of competition in a crowded field.

On Tuesday night in Washington — at the Caucus Room, a restaurant — Emanuel huddled with Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), himself mulling his second bid for City Hall, to discuss the Feb. 2 mayoral contest for the job Mayor Daley is vacating.

“We drank water so our minds could be as clear as possible,” Davis told me. “We had a conversation about the possibility of both of us running for mayor.”

With the potential of a mayoral race being divisive — reopening racial fault lines in the city — Davis said they talked about the kind of campaign they each wanted, “not to be designed to fracture the city, not to polarize the city but to have it be as harmonious as it could be.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Emanuel met with Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) — who is also mulling a mayoral bid, but deferring a decision until after Nov. 2 when Quigley is up for election to his first term in Congress. They met for about an hour at the rooftop bar at the W Hotel. Quigley had lemonade. Emanuel had iced tea.

In addition to the signature deadline, Emanuel and the other candidates for Mayor are also facing a December 31st deadline that will impact fundraising. After that date, new state campaign finance laws go into effect that will make it more difficult for candidates to raise large sums of money from individual donors, so it’s expected that there will be a scramble for dollars in the last three months of the year as candidates try to build up warchests for what’s likely to be an expensive campaign in the first two months of 2011.

Time’s Michael Scherer is reporting that Emanuel is expected to step aside sometime early next month, and speculates on possible replacements:

The White House has already begun preparing a list of replacements for Emanuel, who could be replaced by an interim chief of staff if a suitable candidate is not decided upon in time. Names that have been floated as possible replacements for Emanuel include Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; White House legislative strategist Philip Schiliro; White House counsel Bob Bauer; and Ron Klain, the chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden.

So, let the speculation begin !

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I’ve got to admit this really surprises me.  I have no doubt that Rahm Emanuel will be able to raise plenty of money for a run at the mayor’s office.  After all, fundraising is his primary claim to fame.  And the money alone will make him a serious contender.


    However, he won’t be endorsed by Daley and he won’t be endorsed by Obama.  His name recognition probably works as much against him as for him.  His name doesn’t have what’s called “ballot appeal” around here.


    What’s his constituency?  The Democratic establishment?  Can that alone deliver him the nomination?

  2. Dave,

    One story that caught my eye that may be influencing Emanuel is the scandal that seems to be swirling around Jesse Jackson Jr. If that keeps him out of the race, that would seem to inure to Rahm’s benefit to some degree no ?

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s constituency would transfer their votes to Emanuel?  I can think of a half dozen greater likelihoods.  The only way I could see that happening is if the Gold Coast voters (the ones that are left) were planning to vote for Jackson.  To the contrary I think they’re the likeliest Emanuel constituency already.