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Replacing Rahm Emanuel

The short list for Obama's chief of staff job features some veteran insiders.


Rahm Emanuel (Charles Dharapak / AP)

Is Rahm Emanuel on his way out? It sure seems that way when his boss starts talking about how qualified he is for another job. President Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview aired yesterday that Emanuel would “be an excellent mayor,” but not to expect any announcement at least until after October. “[The] one thing I've always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him. And so my expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections,” Obama said.

Emanuel would have until Nov. 22 to declare his candidacy before the mayoral election in February 2011.

In the name of common decency, it would be too early to write Emanuel's White House obituary and speculate about his replacement. But Washington has always had trouble with common decency, so we might as well. Some of the reasonable contenders for the West Wing’s almost top job:

One name on the much entwined list of potential candidates is Valerie Jarrett. Currently a senior adviser and assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement, she was a member of the president’s transition staff, and ironically she used to work as a deputy chief of staff for Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, the man Emanuel would be running to replace.

Another candidate from the transition team, also with Chi-town ties, is David Axelrod, who is also one of Obama’s senior advisers. He used to be a media consultant in Chicago with the firm AKP&D and is also a former journalist for the Chicago Tribune.

Obama might also pull from elsewhere within the administration. Ron Klain, currently chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and previously for former vice president Al Gore, Politico reports, is also on the media’s short list. According to CNN, Klain also served as an assistant to another man potentially in the running, Tom Daschle, who has been one of Obama’s biggest supporters from the start.

Tom Donilon, deputy national security adviser to Obama, whose wife is chief of staff to Jill Biden, according to Politito, has also been a speculated candidate.

Jim Messina, currently a deputy chief of staff, is also a likely contender. He too served on the transition team and has been chief of staff for U.S. Congress members before.

Despite his proximity to the position, CNN speculates, senior adviser Pete Rouse will not be selected to succeed Emanuel, though the network says he will probably influence the ultimate selection.

If Obama wants to look to people not already working on Pennsylvania Avenue, Tom Nides, chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley, has had his name tossed around by the likes of Politico, as well.   

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