WASHINGTON (AP) — White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel met privately with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Wednesday night to discuss the Chicago mayor's race, sources close to Emanuel and Jackson said on Thursday.
The meeting is the latest sign that both Jackson and Emanuel are considering entering the race. Both have previously expressed interest in becoming Chicago's mayor.
A source close to Jackson said the congressman and Emanuel discussed a variety of issues Chicago is facing, including the economy and job creation. They also discussed the need for any mayoral candidates to conduct campaigns that will allow them to unify behind the nominee in case no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote and a run-off is required. The source would not say who arranged the meeting.
The source close to Jackson was not authorized to speak about the meeting openly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The source close to Emanuel, also speaking anonymously for the same reason, confirmed the meeting.
Mayor Richard M. Daley has said he would not seek a seventh term.
Jackson on Thursday told the Chicago Tribune he and Emanuel agree that everyone in the mayor's race should conduct civil campaigns.
Jackson also said he and Emanuel do not agree on many issues, but they do agree the city is at a tipping point and "the economic destiny of Chicago hangs in the balance."
Jackson said Emanuel's candidacy would "nationalize" the race, entangling it in Obama's agenda.
"No one entering this contest should be under any illusion that if Rahm Emanuel comes to town, he's (not) bringing an A-game," Jackson said. "This will not be a B-game. And those who would be mayor need to recognize that. I say this with respect, but not unafraid to be in the ring with him myself."
Neither Jackson nor Emanuel has very long to mull their decision. Election rules give candidates until Nov. 22 to file petitions to run. Any candidate would likely need to start laying groundwork well before then. The mayoral election is in February.
The source said that Jackson previously also had met with or spoken to several other potential Democratic mayoral candidates to discuss the race, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Danny Davis and State Sen. James Meeks.
White House officials have said they expect Emanuel to explore his options. President Barack Obama said in a television interview recently that his chief of staff would make a "terrific" mayor. But the President also said he did not expect Emanuel to make a decision before midterm elections on Nov. 2.
Emanuel has long ties to Chicago but would enter a field crowded with local candidates. A former adviser to Daley, Emanuel represented the north side of Chicago in Congress before going to work for Obama.
Daley has been in office since 1989. He is the son of Richard J. Daley, another longtime mayor of Chicago. Daleys have presided over Chicago for 42 of the last 55 years.
Associated Press writer Julie Pace contributed to this report.