Rahm Emanuel is expected to announce as early as Friday that he is stepping down as White House chief of staff to pursue his longtime ambition of running for mayor of Chicago, sources say.
The former congressman has long been expected to step down, and the news has been filled with speculation of what day he would choose to make his last.
Friday is when Congress breaks and members return to their districts to campaign ahead of November's midterm elections. One very well-placed Chicago source, who declined to speak on the record because he didn't want to interfere with Emanuel's announcement, told National Journal that he expects Emanuel, a former three-term congressman from the northwest side of Chicago, to step down on Friday and then return to Chicago to declare his intentions to run for mayor -- perhaps on Monday.
That source said that Emanuel's decision to depart sooner rather than later would help him jumpstart his campaign in what is expected to face a crowded field of contenders trying to replace longtime mayor Richard M. Daley. It would also give Obama the opportunity to name a new chief of staff well ahead of the November elections.
White House officials caution repeatedly that Emanuel hasn't made a final decision about when to leave, but they acknowledge that Friday could be the day.
"It's a natural inflection point because of Congress wrapping up," said one White House aide said. "Congress plays such a huge role in the calendar and rhythms here that it makes Friday a logical point for a decision."
The source said that the timeline could shift slightly, but not by much.
"He knows he needs to get cranking," the source said.
ABC News first reported on its website Monday night that Emanuel might make his announcement on Friday.
Emanuel first publicly stated in April to Bloomberg's Charlie Rose that he had ambitions to run Chicago's city hall and would consider taking a shot at the job if Daley ever stepped down. Daley unexpectedly announced earlier this month that he wouldn't seek another term -- opening the opportunity for Emanuel.
Emanuel would enter the mayoral contest with a $1.2 million war chest -- the leftover spoils from his congressional campaign account -- plus his personal wealth as an investment banker. Despite being flush in cash, Emanuel is likely to face an uphill fight.