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Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to retire, speculation swirls around Rahm Emanuel candidacy

Will Rahm Emanuel run for mayor of Chicago in 2011? AP Photo by Charles Dharapak

Updated, 5:26 pm

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.

"In the end, this was a personal decision, no more, no less," Daley said in Chicago Tuesday. "I've been thinking about this for the last several months...It just feels right."

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.

An Emanuel friend said that "I can't imagine this is something he would pass on," adding: "It's always been a dream job for him [but] he was convinced it would be further down the road."

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."

(We wrote at the time that if Daley didn't retire, Emanuel's political options were very limited.)

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. (Daley's father -- Richard J. Daley -- held the mayor's office for two decades before dying on the job in 1976.)

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.

Who did we miss? We'll update the potential candidate list throughout the afternoon.

More from PostPolitcs and The Fix:

A look back at Rahm Emmanuel's career before he got to the White House.

Broder: The fable of Emmanuel the Great.

Rank and sort committees and candidates by campaign spending with PostPolitic's interactive tool.

Fix: The top eight redistricting battles of 2010.

By Chris Cillizza  | September 7, 2010; 3:43 PM ET
Categories:  White House  
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