White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel planned to meet privately with Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois on Wednesday night to discuss the Chicago mayor’s race, according to two people familiar with the plan.
The meeting follows Emanuel’s decision to commission a poll testing his viability as a mayoral candidate, and as he tries to help the White House retain Democratic majorities in Congress.
Jackson and Emanuel are considered potential successors to Richard M. Daley, who said last week that he would not run for reelection next year.
Jackson, a Chicago Democrat, is one of many people Emanuel is consulting as he weighs whether to leave one of the most powerful jobs in Washington for an uncertain shot at becoming mayor, a person close to Emanuel said Wednesday.
“Rahm is … talking to a number of people, including political, neighborhood and civic leaders — and Jesse is one of those people,” the person said.
Emanuel has not decided whether to leave the White House, but he wanted to survey Chicago residents to test his name recognition and standing and “get the pulse of the issues that are important to constituents,” the person said.
Jackson, who was asked last week by CNN if he wanted to be the next mayor, said, “I’ve not made that judgment.”
Emanuel’s desire to be mayor at some point is well known.
After Daley announced he would not seek another term, Emanuel told colleagues at a White House senior staff meeting that they should stay focused on their work and not discuss his future, according to one person who was present.
“People are wondering about what Rahm will do,” a White House aide said.
Emanuel has nearly $1.2 million left from previous congressional races and would be free to use it in a bid for mayor.