It seems Republicans will get their man after all. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is reportedly now President Obama’s top choice to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state after Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for the top diplomat position late last week. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations faced tough opposition from Republicans for her response to the deadly assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.
So why does the GOP want a Secretary of State John Kerry? Simple. In order to take a Cabinet post in the Obama administration, Kerry must vacate his long-held Senate seat, something that potentially paves the way for Scott Brown to be elected again to represent Massachusetts in the Senate. Brown lost his re-election bid to Democrat Elizabeth Warren last month. Republicans would love to add another member to the Senate, where they are the minority party.
Sen. Scott Brown is widely expected to seek out his old job and he would be viewed as a strong contender, particularly in a special election to fill Kerry’s vacancy. Republicans have a tendency to perform better in special elections, which draw many fewer voters.
But it would be at least six months – assuming that Kerry is confirmed as Secretary of State, which he is expected to be- and assuming that Brown wins a special election – before he could re-join the Senate.
Massachusetts law dictates that a special election cannot take place sooner than 145 days from the time an out-going Congress member’s resignation is effective, meaning that at least 145 days must pass between the date that member actually leaves their job and the date that the special occurs. At this juncture in time, even if Kerry is nominated tomorrow and has an incredibly quick confirmation at the beginning of the next Congress, the earliest conceivable date to reach this mark is in June, 2013.