WASHINGTON -- William Daley, the former commerce secretary and brother of Mayor Daley, may be tapped by President Obama to be chief of staff, though no final decisions have been made, several sources told the Sun-Times on Monday.
Daley is the Chicago-based JPMorgan's Midwest chairman and the bank's head of corporate responsibility, but most important in his context is his close relationship with White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod.
If Daley does become chief of staff, there is another interlocking relationship at play: He would be replacing Rahm Emanuel, who quit the post last October to run for Chicago mayor. One of Emanuel's first political jobs was as a fund-raiser for Mayor Daley. Years later William Daley and Emanuel worked closely together in the Clinton White House on the drive to win congressional approval for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Axelrod will be leaving the White House in a few weeks to return to Chicago for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign. Daley would be joining the White House as a veteran of national presidential campaigns; he was chairman of former Vice President Gore's 2000 campaign.
Bloomberg News was the first to report Daley was in play. Obama has not yet offered the job to Daley, I'm told. A main reason is that Peter Rouse, the interim chief of staff, has not yet finalized whether or not he wants to stay on the job. Rouse has been in charge of a midterm staff review and possible shake-up. While Rouse has been up in the air, Daley emerged at the top of the list to become the permanent replacement for Emanuel. Emanuel, I hear, may have played a role in suggesting Daley.
There are a few reasons Daley is seen as a top choice by the Obama White House for the job, I hear. Daley has the complete skill set: He understands how Washington works; he ran the Gore campaign; he is a former Cabinet member; he could help the Obama administration improve relations with the business community as a hostile GOP-controlled House will be sworn in Wednesday. And perhaps most important, Daley could bring the Obama team a real sense of a defined mission in a political year.