As Adam notes, I have a Time.com piece up saying that the White House is preparing for Rahm Emanuel’s departure as chief of staff as soon as early October. There is no doubt that Emanuel now finds himself in a tight spot: Many of the class of 2006 that he helped get elected to Congress are on the ropes in this midterm election, yet Emanuel may not have the luxury of seeing out the elections from the White House for at least three big reasons.
1. Chicago politics moves fast, and the campaign is already in full swing. As long as Emanuel stays as chief of staff, he cannot make all the moves he should be making, like traveling to Chicago, working the local press or showing his full commitment to the race. The longer he stays in D.C., the more likely his foes in the city will try to paint him as a sort of federal carpetbagger, even though his roots in Chicago run deep.
2. There is the appearance of a conflict, which I describe in the story, that comes when the second most powerful person in the federal government has a side hobby. Even if he is strict about not using government phones or meeting on government property, Emanuel is still the White House chief of staff when he calls a ward boss or meets with a rival candidate. Many in the White House, including Emanuel, are sensitive about this.
3. Emanuel is not like most people. When he does anything, he over does it. Even before the Mayor Richard Daley bowed out, he was probably one of the most overworked people in Washington, neglecting sleep to give 150% to one job. The task of having to balance the two competing priorities–his White House gig and mayoral campaign–could be overwhelming, especially if Emanuel wants to do each as well as possible at full blast, which is his habit.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, more intrigue for Chicago voters: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is a potential candidate for mayor, is dealing with allegations from a former fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, that Jackson wanted millions of dollars given to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jackson denies these claims, but does not deny another Nayak claim: That Jackson told Nayak twice to fly in a restaurant hostess, named Giovana Huldobro, to Chicago to meet with Jackson. Says the Chicago Sun Times:
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) said Tuesday he is “deeply sorry” for having “disappointed some supporters” regarding his relationship with a female “social acquaintance.”
Jackson goes on to call “the reference to a social acquaintance is a private and personal matter between me and my wife,” but that is not necessarily the case. There are rules barring personal gifts to sitting members of Congress, and plane tickets for a “social acquaintance” can certainly be considered a gift.