A congressman who met privately with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday night said he came away with the clear impression that Emanuel was likely to resign and run for mayor of Chicago.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, an Illinois Democrat who was also exploring a mayoral bid, said Emanuel asked for a meeting to talk about the mayor’s race. They spoke for about half an hour at the Caucus Room, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Another congressman who is considering a mayoral bid, Democrat Mike Quigley, is scheduled to meet with Emanuel on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the race, Quigley’s office said. Quigley holds the congressional seat that Emanuel had relinquished to become President Obama’s top aide.
Emanuel has commissioned a poll to test his viability and spoken to various elected officials and neighborhood and civic leaders. He has said he wants to be mayor but has not yet publicly declared his candidacy.
“I got the impression it is very likely he is going to do this,” Davis said. “We talked about, if we were to become candidates, what kind of campaigning that should be done — that it’s important to try and keep the city as harmonized as possible and that the city not become split and divided.
“Whoever is campaigning should have that uppermost in their minds. And we both assured each other that, should we become candidates, that would be our approach and would be our tactics.”
Emanuel’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Davis said a coalition of Chicago politicians, elected officials, clergy and others wanted to unite behind a single mayoral candidate. He said he would back the candidate who won the endorsement of this coalition.
Although he said Emanuel would be a formidable candidate, he said he didn’t expect the White House chief of staff to gain the support of this coalition.
Obama said earlier this month that Emanuel would not make a decision on entering the race until after the midterm elections on Nov. 2.
But an Emanuel resignation could come sooner than that.
The filing deadline is Nov. 22, and Emanuel’s friends — including U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) want him to make an announcement quickly. Others have come forward to declare their candidacy, and Durbin said Emanuel couldn’t afford to linger in the White House as the race unfolded.
Emanuel would need to submit 12,500 valid signatures to qualify for the February ballot.