With top United Nations diplomat Susan Rice out of the running for Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be-vacated Secretary of State post, President Obama reportedly plans to nominate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Obama now plans to nominate Kerry. The former presidential candidate and longtime Massachusetts senator, who has developed a reputation as one of the Senate’s leading foreign policy experts, was widely believed to be on the president’s short list.

Republican lawmakers have suggested he would face a smoother path to confirmation than Rice, whose potential nomination was ensnared in criticisms that she downplayed the role of terrorists in the assault on an American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Rice withdrew herself from the running earlier this week, saying ongoing Republican opposition to her candidacy had become a distraction.

The Sun-Times reports that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) would likely take Kerry’s spot atop the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry’s departure would give Republicans a shot at taking back the Senate seat Republican Scott Brown lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November.