Obama to tap Kerry for State post
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., leads a hearing on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where the ambassador three other Americans were killed Sept. 11, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Updated 10:56 a.m. -- Massachusetts senator and onetime Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry will be nominated this afternoon as the next Secretary of State, NBC confirms.
Kerry, who has been considered the overwhelming frontrunner for the job since Susan Rice withdrew herself from consideration, is likely to face few hurdles during his Senate confirmation.
First elected in 1984, Kerry served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy and became a famed demonstrator against the Vietnam War. Since his failed presidential bid in 2004, he has risen to prominence as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, going on high-profile visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan and helping to negotiate an arms treaty with Russia.
Kerry also served as President Barack Obama's stand-in for Mitt Romney for debate preparation during the 2012 campaign.
Rice faced vehement opposition from some Senate Republicans who questioned information she presented in the immediate wake of the Benghazi consulate attacks in September. Faced with a bruising potential confirmation battle, she withdrew herself from the running for the Secretary of State post on December 13th.
If confirmed, Kerry will replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has indicated she will step down from the post early next year.
White House officials tell NBC News that Kerry will be the only new member of the president's national security team to be named today. Controversy continues to swirl over Obama's rumored favorite for the next Secretary of Defense, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, whose comments about Israel as well as past stances on LGBT issues have rankled those on both sides of the aisle.
But administration officials say they are not "backing off" Hagel as a potential pick, although no final decisions about the Defense or top CIA posts have been made.
Assuming Kerry is confirmed and therefore resigns from the United States Senate, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will appoint a temporary replacement for Kerry's seat before a special election held between 145 and 160 days from his resignation date.
Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who was defeated in November by Elizabeth Warren, is possible candidate in that special election, while several Massachusetts House members are also eying a run on the Democratic side.
NBC's Scott Foster contributed to this story