From Chris Cillizza at THE FIX at The Washington Post:
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley‘s surprise announcement today that he would not seek a seventh term in 2011 immediately set off speculation that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel would enter the race.
Emanuel, in a statement released this afternoon, made no mention of his interest (or lack thereof) in the job.
“While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for reelection, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago,” said Emanuel.
A senior Obama Administration official said Emanuel is likely to run for the post. “I’d be shocked if he doesn’t run,” the official said.
Emanuel, who held a Chicago-area Congressional district prior to being named to his current post in late 2008, has long had designs on the mayor’s office.
“I would like to run for the mayor of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel told talk show host Charlie Rose in April. “That has always been an aspiration of mine even when I was in the House of Representatives.”
Conversations with plugged-in Chicago Democrats — and boy are there lots of them! — make clear that if Emanuel ran, he would be the clear frontrunner although almost certainly wouldn’t have the field entirely to himself.
Emanuel’s ties to Daley go all the way back to 1989 when he served as finance chairman for the younger Daley’s successful bid.
President Barack Obama said that Daley “helped build Chicago’s image as a world class city” in a statement on the mayor’s retirement released this afternoon.
Those strong ties to Daley — and his political machine — coupled with the former Congressman’s demonstrated fundraising prowess and the behind-the-scenes role that President Obama could play in his home state make Emanuel a strong potential candidate.
That said, there are untold numbers of politicians who believe they have what it takes to be the city’s next mayor and at least a few of them aren’t likely to bow out even if Emanuel gets in.
Among the serious names mentioned: Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan, 2004 Senate candidate Gery Chico and Reps. Mike Quigley, Luis Gutierrez and Jesse Jackson Jr.