Emanuel would have to declare his intent to enter the race by Nov. 22. The election would be in February 2011.
Emanuel would join a number of top administration officials who have already moved on this year, including members of the president's economic team, former Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orzsag and advisor Christina Romer.
While the Obama administration has not yet faced a major shake-up, the first term has been marked by several contentious resignations and public battles over some nominees who never even got the job.
In September 2009, Van Jones, President Obama's Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality resigned amid controversy over remarks he made alleging "evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur."
Two months later, White House general counsel Greg Craig also resigned after weathering criticism from within the administration over his role in the crafting the administration's policy on the Guantanamo Bay detention center closure and the release of detainee interrogation records from the previous administration.
But perhaps the most high-profile departure to date from the Obama administration happened before the individual could even be confirmed. Former Senator Daschle withdrew his nomination to be secretary of health and human services after complex tax problems were uncovered.
So far, departed veterans of the Obama White House have not followed in the footsteps of Paul O'Neill, who famously left early in George W. Bush's first term and publicly aired his differences with the administration. But many of those from the inside typically get book deals.
ABC News' Ann Compton contributed to this report.