Emanuel said he wanted to run for mayor of Chicago after Richard M. Daley leaves office- whether it's sometime in the distant future or as soon as next year. He made the announcement just hours after it became public that Mayor Daley's wife, Maggie, suffered a setback in her long battle against cancer.
"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," said Emanuel.
Emanuel made the statement during an interview on public television.
"Anybody would love to be mayor because it's a beautiful city..." said Alderman Ricky Munoz, 22nd Ward. Munoz wonders why Emanuel chose Monday night to declare his unofficial candidacy.
"What's kind of troubling is the timeliness, specifically because of what the mayor's going through in his family. We all wish him and Maggie well. It was kind of tacky for him to come out and say it right around the same time," said Ald. Munoz.
Daley watchers agree and believe Maggie's condition next winter will be a major factor in the mayor's decision whether to run in the 2011 city election. Emanuel--who left his North Side congressional seat to become President Barack Obama's chief of staff--still has over $1 million in his campaign war chest. That money would give him a huge head start over other potential candidates to succeed Daley.
"His first strategy would be to raise money and to try and chase the other candidates out of the race. And to receive the backing of either Mayor Daley and the other members of the regular democratic party as their best candidate not to change and rock the boat," said Dick Simpson, UIC Political Science Department.
In a city with a population that is 70-percent African American, Latino and Asian American, Emanuel's support would have to extend well beyond his predominantly white North Side base. South Side political consultant Maze Jackson says because of Emanuel's association with the president gaining a foothold among black voters is doable.
"We have a tremendous amount of people who want to see an African-American mayor but I think they also want to make sure that we have a quality mayor and we have a mayor that will be able to get things done," sais Jackson.
Longtime Chicagoan Governor Pat Quinn is also intrigued by Emanuel's ambition to leave the White House and come home to the political meat grinder that is Chicago.
"I thought the world was enough for him. He's uh...an ambitious fellow...yeah..." said Quinn.
Emanuel has served as Barack Obama's chief of staff for the past 15 months. The average time anyone spends in that high-pressure job is about 18 months.
Politicians across the city were talking about Emanuel's interview. Most are especially curious whether Emanuel talked to the mayor about his ambition before he went public.