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John Kerry: Next Secretary of State?

Senator suggested for role as soon as Rice dropped out of consideration


President Barack Obama’s choice for his next Secretary of State may be the worst-kept secret in Washington right now — or one of the biggest surprises ever, if the presumptive nominee isn’t selected.

Hillary Clinton’s likely successor? Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Sources have told both CNN and ABC News that Kerry will be Obama’s choice, and that it’s only a matter of time before Obama makes the announcement.

Kerry seems to possess the foreign relations experience necessary to thrive in the role. Originally from Denver, Colo., Kerry spent much of his childhood overseas. He lived in Berlin, and attended a Swiss boarding school at 11 years old. He is also a Vietnam War veteran who earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts during his tour of duty. He has been a senator since 1984, and currently serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ironically enough, his testimony in front of that committee in the early 1970s, along with his work with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, may have doomed his 2004 campaign for president. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran campaign ads accusing him of lying to receive two of his medals and criticized his anti-war efforts. Kerry lost to George W. Bush, who won 3 million more popular votes and the electoral college vote 292-252.

Stranger still, Republicans now seem to have no problem with Kerry as Secretary of State. That could be because they see an opening for their party in Kerry’s nomination and confirmation. If nominated and confirmed, Massachusetts’ Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick would select a replacement. A special general election would then have to be held 145-165 days from when the vacancy first opened.

It’s not certain who Patrick would select, or if Patrick’s choice would be a caretaker or someone who would also run in the primary. But the Republicans already know who they want to run in a special election for that seat: former Sen. Scott Brown. Brown won a special election in 2010 to fill the remainder of Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat after he passed away in August 2009. Brown was defeated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren in this year’s election. Brown’s name recognition could give him a leg-up in another special election.

Unfortunately, it looks like despite Susan Rice’s pleas for a less politicized nomination and confirmation process, Kerry’s imminent selection as Obama’s candidate for the Secretary of State job will lead to only more politics, division, and disruption.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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