By Andrew Scoggin
Americans, meet the new chief representative of your interests abroad. His name might ring a bell.
John Kerry, former Democratic presidential candidate and soon-to-be former Massachusetts senator, was confirmed Tuesday as Secretary of State by his colleagues in the Senate. The vote was 94 to 3, with dissents from Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn (Texas forever).
Kerry voted “present” in presumably his last vote as senator, and will replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who was confirmed by a similarly wide margin). The Associated Press reports he could be sworn in as early as Wednesday.
While he isn’t coming directly off the campaign trail like Clinton in 2009, Kerry certainly continues a streak of big names who have served as the nation’s top diplomat, including Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. The likely preferred choice to replace Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, took herself out of contention for fear of a drawn out confirmation process.
For Kerry, the process was more like a victory lap. He sailed (get it?) through his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs. The committee sent out a glowing resolution early Tuesday to move his nomination to the full Senate.
His political career will be forever synonymous with “Swiftboating,” but the 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran has served in the Senate since 1985. He also famously opposed the direction of the Iraq War during the 2004 election, but lost a close race to George W. Bush. (So was he closer to the presidency then or now as fourth in line in succession?)
Kerry was also heavily involved in the Iran-Contra hearings in the 1980s.
But as Kerry prepares for his work abroad, the political story returns to his home state of Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick could announce an interim replacement for Kerry’s Senate seat Wednesday, and among the rumored names are the governor’s former chief of staff and the widow of late Sen. Ted Kennedy. (Former Rep. Barney Frank has voiced his desire to serve in the post, too.)
The state will also hold a special Senate election on June 25, with the primary on April 30. Former Republican Sen. Scott Brown is expected to run, just months after he lost his seat to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. It’d be a big win for Republicans, just like when Brown won the 2010 special election after Ted Kennedy’s death.
Kerry’s confirmation also means President Obama has filled the first of many empty posts in his Cabinet, including the secretaries of the Defense, Treasury, Transportation, Energy and Interior departments.