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Up Next: Mayor Rahm?

The guy became mayor in the first year of George WALKER Bush's presidency. So Richard Daley stepping down is a pretty big deal in its own right. He coulda been da mare for life, like his pa, ya know what I'm sayin'?

But in Washington, all the talk is about Rahm.

He wants the job. You know he wants the job. It's bleeping golden to him.

But he's still got the White House to run, heading into a brutal midterm season. Yes, the filing deadline in Chicago isn't till December, but Emanuel can't twiddle his thumbs until then.

Chuck Todd says he's got a week or two to make the decision.

Let's say he runs. Will his White House tenure help or hurt him?

And more urgently, who would replace him as chief of staff? Does Obama go for a wholesale shakeup? Bring in some big names? It's hard to argue that the administration's messaging has been sharp and crisp for the last year.

Says the Chicago Tribune: "Staffers at the White House expect that Emanuel will run, one administration official said, recalling what the chief of staff said several weeks ago: "'f and when Rich doesn't run, I'll do it.'... 'You know that even when I was in Congress I wanted to be mayor,' Emanuel told the Tribune Washington Bureau during a March interview.

"But he and his wife, Amy Rule, soon signed their children up for another year of school in the Washington area, planning for what seemed like the likelihood that Daley would run again."

I don't know who else will jump into the race--there's chatter about Jesse Jackson Jr.--but don't underestimate Rahm. He's more responsible than anyone for the Democrats retaking the House in 2006. (And he'll bear some the blame if the Dems lose the House in 2010).

The tributes are mixed with ambivalence. The Chicago Sun-Times says: "The man seems increasingly crabby, increasingly isolated and increasingly joyless in a job he says he loves." But despite his "dictatorial style," says the paper, "he was one hell of a mayor."

Tribune columnist Mary Schmich puts it in parental terms:

"Good dad. Bad dad. The man we've loved to hate and the one we've depended on more than we like to admit.

"Go ahead, curse him. It's fashionable, and often deserved.

"He throws tantrums. He plays favorites. He is not cool. He has screwed up some things big-time. Disobey him at your peril.

"But for years, all we've had to do is look around the neighborhood -- Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland -- to see that we've been lucky to have a guy like him running our household."

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, whose mother was a Chicago pol, says that "if Rahm runs, he'll put President Obama in a tight spot, and not just because the president is said to still regard his chief of staff as indispensable. Obama will feel loyal to Emanuel, whom he begged to leave the Congress in 2008 and come work for him amid the economic crisis (Rahm was reluctant to leave Capitol Hill). The president owes him. But that doesn't mean he would necessarily wade into a Democratic primary and endorse him over other politicians he has also known for years."

By Howard Kurtz  |  September 8, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Latest stories , Top story  
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