President Barack Obama is making official what has been clear for days: Rahm Emanuel, the relentless enforcer of his agenda as White House chief of staff, is resigning. The job Emanuel wants now is mayor of Chicago, where his next fierce political fight awaits.
What Emanuel leaves behind is more than a staff job. It is the most demanding and influential position in the White House - save for Obama's. The person who holds it is entrusted to shape the president's thinking, prioritize his time, manage scores of egos and issues and keep the White House focused on its goals.
Stepping into that role will be Pete Rouse, a deeply trusted senior adviser to Obama who has made much of his living as a chief of staff. Obama on Friday is expected to herald Emanuel's service, talk of unfinished business and introduce Rouse as interim White House chief of staff, likely for the rest of the year.
Rouse is considered a leading choice to become the permanent chief of staff. So is Tom Donilon, the deputy national security adviser known as a skilled interagency manager, although he may be a logical replacement for national security adviser James Jones upon his expected departure in the coming months. Another top candidate is Ron Klain, although he might be reluctant to leave his job as Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff.
Obama's choice will come in the context of a personnel reorganization, two years into a grueling presidency, with some key players already planning to leave the White House grind and others likely seeing changes in their portfolio. The results of the Nov. 2 House and Senate midterm elections will also be a factor.