Emanuel is currently President Obama's chief of staff. He once served as a congressman from Chicago.
But he may be enticed by an opportunity to go for something he's long held as a goal. His friend, White House senior advisor David Axelrod, says Emanuel is thinking it over.
There are dozens of possible candidates for mayor but at the top of most lists is the man many believe was the architect of the Democrats' congressional victories in 2006. That set the stage for a Democratic White House triumph two years later. His centrist, no-nonsense style has him lacking friends in the progressive camp, a key constituency he'll have to win over if he's to become Chicago's next mayor.
At City Hall the buzz over who will be in charge after the next election, as elsewhere, is focusing on Emanuel. But none appear to have the connections at all levels of government, the money and the recognition factor of the White House chief of staff.
In an April interview with journalist Charlie Rose, Emanuel talked about wanting to run for mayor.
"There's nothing wrong with ambition. You all want to get ahead in your jobs. One of the best jobs is being mayor of a city," said Mayor Daley earlier this year.
Still, knitting together a coalition to win a non-partisan election will be a challenge. And experienced politicians are saying being a front runner at this point can be perilous.
"First of all, has not indicated he would run, he never served on City Council, he never...I don't know the friends that he can count on," said Congressman Bobby Rush.
White House senior advisor David Axelrod told ABC News Wednesday that Emanuel's hard-driving style matches his outsize personality -- a must in big city mayors.
"Rahm has that combination of skills and that personality and mindset to be a successful mayor if he chooses to go that route," said Axelrod in a radio interview.
But political consultant Don Rose says it will not be an easy ride.
"He evaded almost all the liberals and progressives who wanted to talk to him about the war," said Rose.
In fact, the Washington-based Progressive Change for Campaign Committee is circulating a petition asking supporters to pledge that they "will not support Rahm Emanuel in any future election -- for mayor, governor, or other office."
"Democrats' current 2010 situation is due to a weak Rahm Emanuel mentality that says water down real reform at the urging of Republicans and corporations." it says.
"Rahm Emanuel has to make friends which is probably the hardest thing he has to do in his life," said Rose.
The 50-year old is a former congressman. Before that he was an investment banker, a profession he turned to after serving as a top advisor to President Clinton. It was a job he came to after developing a national reputation as an organizer and financial wizard for Mayor Daley's first successful run for mayor.