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White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is likely to leave office before the November midterm elections, report a number of news sources. Long-running speculation that Emanuel would depart to run for the mayoralty of Chicago suddenly appeared especially credible on September 7, when Chicago Mayor and Democrat Richard Daley announced he would not seek reelection. Since then, many commentators have seen Emanuel's departure as increasingly likely. But the sudden announcement, coming less than 24 hours after reports that National Economic Council director Larry Summers will step down, has taken many by surprise. Here's what people are saying.

  • Why He's Likely to Leave in October NBC News' Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie report, "Sources tell NBC News that Emanuel MAY step down from his position as soon as October. The most logical period for Rahm to leave is right after Congress recesses, before the midterms. ... What's more, there are legal reasons why Rahm would need to officially leave his federal appointee job to run. Federal law prohibits electioneering by federal government employees. Nomination papers for the Chicago mayoral elections must be filed by Nov. 22, 2010."

  • If He's Leaving, He Better Do It Soon Time's Michael Scherer explains, "Chicago politics move fast, and the campaign is already in full swing. As long as Emanuel stays as chief of staff, he cannot make all the moves he should be making, like traveling to Chicago, working the local press or showing his full commitment to the race. The longer he stays in D.C., the more likely his foes in the city will try to paint him as a sort of federal carpetbagger." He would also risk "the appearance of a conflict" if he continued informally positioning himself for the Chicago mayoralty while remaining chief of staff.
  • Rahm 'Feeling Out' Potential Mayoral Competitors   The Chicago Tribune's Hal Dardick reports, "White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is feeling out other potential candidates for Chicago mayor. Ald. Thomas Tunney, 44th, said Emanuel called him Friday. West Side U.S. Rep. Danny Davis met with Emanuel last night. Meanwhile, North Side U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley is flying to Washington and plans to meet with Emanuel later today, an aide said. 'He expressed his interest in running' for mayor, Tunney said. 'He had done some polling.'"
  • Pete Rouse Could Be Temp Replacement  CNN's Ed Henry reports, "One person close to Emanuel added that highly respected White House Deputy Chief of Staff Pete Rouse is the favorite to take over on a temporary basis to give President Barack Obama more time to find a long-term replacement. ... Rouse served as chief of staff in Obama's Senate office and is known to have the president's trust. Democratic officials have told CNN that Rouse, who is known for not relishing the spotlight, has suggested he does not want the chief of staff post permanently."
  • Would Obama Endorse Rahm in Mayoral Run-Off?  Politico's Roger Simon poses an intricate hypothetical in which Emanuel "may need Obama's help. Chicago has adopted a runoff system for mayor: If anyone fails to get 50 percent plus one vote on Feb. 22, the top two finishers compete on April 5. It is possible that the top two finishers, each lacking a majority, could be state Sen. James Meeks, an African-American minister and social conservative, and Rahm. In the opinion of some, Rahm would need Obama's endorsement to win the runoff. But would Obama, who is still popular in Chicago, risk angering the black community to endorse Rahm?"
  • Rahm's Replacement Pick Will Speak Volumes The New York Times' Matt Bai writes, "The selection of a chief of staff signals the direction of a presidency. Whether Democrats lose control of Congress this November or simply emerge weakened, President Obama will likely confront a changed political environment. And so Mr. Obama's potential choice for a second chief of staff would say a lot about the kind of strategy he intends to pursue for the rest of his term -- and whether he is ready, perhaps, to challenge the worldview that permeates his White House." Bai says Obama must pick between a current administration member who will promote internal cohesion or an outsider who can shake things up.

That wuz quick! @edhenrycnn Once Senate goes, look for Rahm to move quick -- he has NOT made formal decision to run, but he's all-but-inless than a minute ago via web

Hope someone is making sure before Rahm leaves Chicago doesn't get federal funding for a gigantic Snow Dome or something.less than a minute ago via tGadget

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