Kerry Nomination Expected To Trigger Special Election

President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Massachusetts U.S. Senator John F. Kerry to serve as Secretary of State during the president’s second term in office.

If confirmed, Kerry will replace outgoing Secretary Hillary R. Clinton and resign his senior U.S. Senate seat, triggering a special election in Massachusetts by as early as this summer. In the event of Kerry’s confirmation, Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78 will appoint a temporary replacement to represent the state in the Senate until an election is held.

While major media outlets reported last weekend that the president had settled on Kerry as his nominee, the White House delayed announcing the selection until Friday. Some have speculated that this delay was due to the school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., as well as uncertainty surrounding other cabinet vacancies.

After U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice withdrew her name from consideration last week, Kerry became the obvious frontrunner for the post.

As a senator, Kerry has traveled frequently as an envoy for the president, most notably to danger zones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Additionally, Kerry chairs the influential Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Senators from both parties have predicted that Kerry will be easily confirmed in the Senate.

Kerry’s confirmation would mean yet another election in Massachusetts. In most states, the governor appoints a replacement senator to serve the remainder of the term. Following a 2004 change to Massachusetts state law, a vacant Senate post must be filled by special election between 145 and 160 days after the seat is opened. Assuming that Kerry takes office in early 2013, the special election would be held in mid-June 2013.

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