BY Meena Hartenstein
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
In the wake of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's announcement that he won't be seeking re-election when his term is up, Washington is buzzing with speculation over what the news means for Rahm Emanuel.
The White House Chief of Staff didn't address rumors that he will seek the Mayoral spot, though he did offer a brief comment on the news.
"While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for re-election, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago," Emanuel said in a statement Tuesday.
In April, Obama's controversial Chief of Staff famously declared he would be interested in Daley's job if it opened up.
"I hope Mayor Daley seeks re-election. I will work and support him if he seeks re-election. But if Mayor Daley doesn't, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago," he told Charlie Rose.
"That's always been an aspiration of mine even when I was in the House of Representatives."
Daley himself sparked reporters' speculation a few days later when he said a run by Emanuel wouldn't be "stepping on my toes."
"Everybody would like to mayor of the city of Chicago," Daley said at the time. "There’s nothing wrong with hoping to be a mayor of the city of Chicago."
Emanuel has reportedly spread the word among his Chicago friends that fellow Chicagoan and senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett would be next to take his place if he vacated his job as Chief of Staff, Politico reports.
Jarrett is said to top a list of candidates which at one time also included Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
In an election season that is predicted to be particularly damaging to Democrats, pursuing the Mayor role could offer Emanuel an elegant exit, as he has proved to be a very polarizing figure in the Obama White House.
But a source tells Politico that while Emanuel wants the job, he may not want it this soon.
"He would need to get moving. If he’s going to do this, he’ll need to get back and establish himself," the source said. "Remember he had a tough first election and there are many, many, many people in that city who feel like they are in line for the best job in the world."
Rumors about Emanuel abandoning the White House have dogged him for months.
Most recently in June, London's Telegraph cited sources close to the Chief of Staff as saying he had decided to leave in the next six to eight months. At the time, the White House denied the report.
Barack Obama did not weigh in on the Emanuel rumors on Tuesday, but offered kind words for Mayor Daley.
"No mayor in America has loved a city more or served a community with greater passion than Rich Daley," the President said in a statement.
"He helped build Chicago's image as a world class city, and leaves a legacy of progress that will be appreciated for generations to come."