Axelrod Will Return to Chicago in 2011

Posted September 23, 2010 at 7:45pm

Updated: 9:42 p.m.

A White House official confirmed Thursday that David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, will leave the White House next year and head back to Chicago.

Axelrod has been widely expected to return to his hometown next year to work on Obama’s re-election campaign. In an e-mail to Fox News on Thursday, Axelrod wrote, “I’ll be here well into 2011. At some point, I’ll leave to work on reelect.” The Chicago native was a key strategist behind Obama’s election victory in 2008.

Confirmation of Axelrod’s departure came as several key members of Obama’s economic team are making their way to the door. Larry Summers, the president’s top economic adviser, announced Tuesday that he is returning to Harvard University. A day before, Herb Allison said he was stepping down as the head of the government’s $700 billion financial bailout program. Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Christina Romer, head of the Council of Economic Advisers, also recently left.

Staff changes are likely to extend beyond the president’s economic advisers. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has signaled interest in running for Chicago mayor, and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina is likely to join Axelrod in Chicago. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser James Jones are also expected to step down after the Congressional midterm election in November.

Obama’s staff exodus is not surprising given that there is “a lot of burnout” among those who have been working for Obama both as president and as a candidate, one White House aide said.

“A lot of the people who are here now are people who have been working 80-plus hours for four years,” the aide said. “At some point, it’s just not sustainable.”