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Reports: Sen. John Kerry to be named secretary of State (+video)

Now that Susan Rice has withdrawn her name, President Obama reportedly will name Sen. John Kerry to take over as secretary of State when Hillary Rodham Clinton resigns.

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"I think John Kerry would be an excellent appointment and would be easily confirmed by his colleagues," Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins said recently.

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If Kerry leaves the Senate it opens up the likelihood of yet another hard-fought US Senate race in the Bay State. In November, Democrat Elizabeth Warren ousted Republican incumbent Scott Brown.

With Kerry’s move to the State Department, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (a Democrat) would be expected to name a temporary replacement. Then under state election law a special election would be held 145-160 days later.

The winner of that special election to fill out the remaining year and a half of Kerry’s term then would face reelection. Prominently mentioned as the Republican nominee is recent loser Scott Brown – a GOP moderate who has showed he can win in a relatively liberal state.

The announcement of Kerry's nomination could come as early as mid-week, according to one source knowledgeable of the situation, Reuters reports, although it could also be delayed to avoid the impression of an overly-hasty return to politics following the Sandy Hook School massacre that killed 27 people, including 20 first-graders.

Kerry at State is expected to be part of a national security cabinet shuffle, including a new Defense Secretary to replace Leon Panetta, who has said he intends to retire early next year, and a new CIA Director to replace retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned over a scandal involving an extra-marital affair.

Prominently mentioned as a replacement for Sec. Panetta is former US Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican.

Hagel is a “contrarian Republican moderate and decorated Vietnam combat veteran who is likely to support a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan,” reports the Associated Press. “As President Barack Obama’s top candidate for defense secretary, Hagel has another credential important to the president: a personal relationship with Obama, forged when they were in the Senate and strengthened during overseas trips they took together.”

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