When President Obama tackles his second term agenda, he will do so with several new faces making up his Cabinet. 

Today, the President formally nominated Mass. Sen. John Kerry to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  

“He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” the President told reporters at the White House.  “Few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our policies as firmly as John Kerry.”

The President’s announcement comes a week after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice bowed out of contention for Secretary of State amid backlash over her response to the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  That prompted immediate and widespread speculation Kerry would be tapped for the job.

The 69-year-old’s nomination requires U.S. Senate confirmation – something he expected to easily secure.  Kerry will first appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he currently chairs.  Assuming he earns the approval of his fellow committee members, Kerry’s nomination will then be debated on the Senate floor before a simple majority vote to confirm. 

All that will likely take place by mid-January, at which time Gov. Deval Patrick will be required to set a date for a special election to replace Kerry in the Senate. 

The election must occur between 145 and 160 days after the Kerry is confirmed and vacates his seat.  That means it will likely take place in June or July 2013. 

Patrick must also appoint a temporary replacement to fill Kerry’s seat until the special election is decided.  The Governor told reporters today he will not make that selection until after Kerry is confirmed.   

In 2009, Patrick appointed Paul Kirk to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy with the understanding he would not seek the seat in the special election.  Patrick did not say whether he would demand the same commitment from his appointee this time around, but he said it is unlikely an interim senator would be a successful candidate.