Emanuel not yet decided if leaving White House: source

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has yet to decide whether he will leave the Obama administration to run for mayor of Chicago, although an announcement could come as early as Friday, a source close to Emanuel said on Monday.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel speaks at the Wall St. Journal CEO Council on "Rebuilding Global Prosperity" in Washington November 16, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s right-hand man who has long expressed interest in the Chicago job, has left little doubt he may resign to enter the race to replace longtime Mayor Richard Daley, who is retiring.

“Rahm is nearing a decision on whether to leave the White House and explore a run for mayor of Chicago; an announcement could come as early as Friday,” the source said, as speculation mounted his departure was imminent.

“Because of family considerations, no final decision has been made,” the source said.

News reports have said Emanuel was likely to step down -- or was at least considering such a move -- before U.S. congressional elections on November 2.

Emanuel’s family only moved to Washington recently, and his children started school in the area just three weeks ago.

Emanuel’s current post gives him influence in shaping Obama’s legislative priorities. He also oversees White House staff and effectively determines who sees the president.

If Emanuel were to leave, Obama adviser Pete Rouse would be widely expected to step in on an interim basis. Among those mentioned as possible replacements are Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, deputy national security adviser Tom Donilon, Ron Klain, who is Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, and White House Counsel Robert Bauer

If Emanuel, a Democrat, decides to run for mayor, he has until November 22 to file for a February 22 primary election. He would also need to organize a campaign and start raising funds.

Known for his political acumen, aggressive style and expletive-laced language, Emanuel represented a Chicago district in the U.S. House of Representatives before joining Obama’s team.

Obama arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Monday evening, the first stop on a multi-state trip to discuss issues with voters and rally supporters on behalf of Democratic candidates. He is scheduled to also visit Wisconsin, Iowa and Virginia before returning to Washington on Wednesday.

Editing by Paul Simao