Two sources close to Rahm Emanuel tell the Associated Press that he will resign as chief of staff to Barack Obama and head back to Chicago for a run at the mayor’s office.  He’s apparently ready to hit the ground running, too, and not just in Washington:

Two people close to Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he will resign as White House chief of staff on Friday, and will begin his campaign for Chicago mayor by meeting with voters in the city on Monday.

The two people familiar with his plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to pre-empt Emanuel’s announcement, said he will return to Chicago over the weekend and begin touring neighborhoods on Monday.

Well, that certainly seems quick.  On Friday, he’s running the White House, and on Monday he’s pressing the flesh in the Windy City.  I wonder how much of his last few weeks in DC have gone towards organizing his election effort, and how much has gone to doing his current job?

The AP casts this as a tough decision after Richard Daley’s decision to forgo another term as mayor:

The choice for Emanuel suddenly became whether he would make a dash for the political job he has openly coveted, at a cost of uprooting his family again and quitting his post of national influence sooner than he thought.

Er .. okay.  Rahm could either stick around another couple of years and move back to Chicago without a job as the administration’s popularity spirals down the political drain, or move back now and win what would almost certainly be a lifetime sinecure and a position at the head of a powerful political machine.  The wonder of it isn’t that Emanuel chose the second option, but that he didn’t leave skid marks on the West Wing floor seconds after Daley’s announcement.

The choice of Emanuel’s replacement will speak volumes about the direction of the White House after the midterms.  Does Obama pick an insider to help him hunker down, or does he pick someone with good relations across the aisle in order to move to the center and get something accomplished before 2012?

Update: NBC says Pete Rouse, Obama’s CoS when he served in the Senate, will become Emanuel’s interim replacement.  That could become a permanent position for Rouse, who has good experience on Capitol Hill and might work better across the aisle than others mentioned in earlier reports, like Tom Daschle for example.  In fact, it would be hard to see Obama picking Daschle after his tax problems came to light in the transition period, when Obama initially picked him for a Cabinet position.  The chief of staff position does not require Senate confirmation, but putting another alleged tax evader in the inner circle won’t do Obama any good in the run-up to his re-election bid.