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Rahm Emanuel undecided on Chicago mayoral run, downplays media buzz

'Rahm doesn't believe that anyone can be anointed or handed this election,' says a spokeswoman for Obama's chief of staff. Friends say he is weighing the personal cost of a bid with his wife and family.

September 11, 2010|By Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Rahm Emanuel hasn't decided whether to leave his job at the White House and run for mayor of Chicago, but he's fending off the suggestion that he expects to just waltz into City Hall.

"Rahm doesn't believe that anyone can be anointed or handed this election," says a spokeswoman for Emanuel, the former Chicago-area congressman who now serves as President Obama's chief of staff. "Only the people of Chicago will choose who should be their mayor."

In the jockeying for position since Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he won't seek reelection, a couple of prominent Chicagoans raised questions about the status of "front-runners," a label that arguably applies to Emanuel.

Any "imaginary front-runner" will have to come to his neighborhood and address its needs, said Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), urging the media to "end its coordinated commentary on who will be the next mayor."

Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) called Emanuel a " Washington hand" and pointed out that he currently works in Washington, not Chicago.

Late Friday, an aide to Emanuel said he agrees with Rush that it's "not up the media or anyone else to anoint someone mayor."

"Any candidate who aspires to this role will start from zero and need to make the case by going door to door, grocery store to grocery store, El platform to El platform, fire station to fire station," says spokeswoman Meridith Webster. "The voters of Chicago will be able to sort through what matters and what doesn't and they will make their decision based on an assessment of a person's capabilities to represent and fight for them."

Despite the statement, Webster said Emanuel hasn't decided whether or not to run. Friends say Emanuel is weighing the personal cost of a run for mayor with his wife and their family.

cparsons@latimes.com

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