Reports: Obama Picks Kerry for State Department

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 16 2012 9:51 AM

Reports: Sen. John Kerry To Be Nominated as Next Secretary of State

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Sen. John Kerry walks to the Senate chamber in the U.S. Capitol on December 4

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

President Obama has apparently made up his mind and will nominate Senate Foreign Relations Committee head John Kerry to take over Hillary Clinton as secretary of state during his second term, according to anonymous sources cited by Reuters, CNN, ABC News, and the Chicago Sun-Times. The move is hardly a surprise considering Kerry has been seen as the top candidate for the post ever since Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, withdrew her name from consideration. Kerry is expected to gain easy confirmation from his Senate colleagues. Sen. John McCain recently jokingly referred to Kerry as “Mr. Secretary,” notes CNN.

Although the announcement was expected as early as the middle of the week, it could be delayed to “avoid the impression of an overly-hasty return to politics following the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday,” according to Reuters. The announcement of Kerry’s nomination will probably come as a package that would also include Obama’s choice for defense secretary. Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is seen as the top contender for that post. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is expected to take over Kerry's role in the Foreign Relations Committee, reports the Sun-Times.

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If Kerry is tapped, Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick would have to appoint a replacement to take over Kerry’s Senate seat before a special general election takes place between 145 and 160 days later. The winner of that special election would serve the final year and a half of Kerry’s term and could then run again for a full term in the 2014 midterms, details CNN.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.